Sunday, 23 September 2018

Make a date for Christmas

JIVE dancers, an accordion group and a stand-up comedian will be among the new performers at this year’s award-winning Henley

JIVE dancers, an accordion group and a stand-up comedian will be among the new performers at this year’s award-winning Henley Living Advent Calendar.

There will also be a special set of Swedish children’s carols as a nod to the country where the concept was created.

Returning performers include the St Mary’s Church choir and the Henley firefighters.

There will also be a screening of a film made by the winner of a new competition for under 25-year-olds.

Now in its third year, the calendar involves a variety of 15-minute performances at different venues around Henley each evening from December 1 to 24.

The identity of each performer is kept secret until they actually appear, just like opening a door on an Advent calendar.

Each performance is free to view but there will be collections in aid of the Henley Youth Centre, the Regatta for the Disabled, Fourbirdsaboating and the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

Audiences will be kept warm with Christmas treats such as mince pies, chocolate and mulled wine. Founder Julie Perigo said: “In previous years surprises have included talented local singers, Olympic rower carol singers, handbell ringers, jazz bands, children’s dance troupes and a Scottish piper.

“Come and see who they will be this year and bring along your friends and family. There is something for all ages.

“Perhaps you could meet after work and start the Christmas celebrations over a drink or a meal together before or after the show.”

The calendar is a joint venture organised by Henley Town Council and the Henley Partnership. Ms Perigo, who chairs the partnership, brought the idea from Stockholm, where she had seen it in action.

Henley was the first town in Britain to stage one in 2011 and this year other towns inlcluding Windsor, Wokingham, Twyford and Banbury plan to copy the idea.

Audiences have grown from an average of 45 each night to almost 100 and participating organisations have increased from 27 to more than 75.

This year’s main sponsor is Sotheby’s International Realty and new partners include pump manufacturer Stuart Turner, luxury watch-maker Bremont, the Communications Group and Fidelity-Group and riverside restaurant Shaun Dickens. Philip Booth, of Sotheby’s, said: “It’s a great thing for everyone to enjoy. There is no need to book, no entrance fees and it’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.”

Stuart Harris, business development manager at Fidelity-Group, said: “We are very excited about being part of it.

“It is great to be involved in something which brings local businesses together, raises money for local charities and gives so much fun to the town. We’ll certainly be making our evening on Deceber 13 one for the audience to remember.”

The calendar won the regional business and economy and partnership and strategic working category in the Towns Alive! Awards and was one of only three national finalists in the Association of Town Centre Management Awards.

The performances will take place from 6.15pm to 6.30pm at the following venues (in date order): December 1 Henley town hall, Market Place; 2 Henley fire station, West Street; 3 Regal Picturehouse, Boroma Way; 4 New Orleans, Hobbs boatyard, Station Road; 5 River and Rowing Museum, Mill Lane; 6 Above Boutique 96, Friday Street; 7 Leander Club; 8 Phyllis Court Club, off Marlow Road; 9 Stuart Turner, off Greys Road; 10 Shaun Dickens, Station Road; 11 Angel on the Bridge, Thames Side; 12 Best of Henley, Empstead Works, off Greys Rd; 13 the Communications Group (The Hub), Station Road; 14 Henley Youth Centre, Deanfield Avenue; 15 The Bull, Bell Street; 16 Hotel du Vin, New Street; 17 The Henley College, Deanfield Avenue; 18 Simmons & Sons, Bell Street; 19 Delegate, Hart Street; 20 Lovibonds, Market Place; 21 Market Place; 22 Market Place; 23 Kenton Theatre, New Street; 24 St Mary’s Church, Hart Street.

For more information, visit www.livingadventcalendar.co.uk

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