SUPPORTERS of this year’s Living Advent Calendar hope that it will attract more visitors to Henley.
Now in its third year, the calendar involves a variety of 15-minute performances at different venues around the town 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.
The opening night’s performance will take place outside the town hall in Market Place, which will also host two other nights.
Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “The calendar is a brilliant idea which brings people together as a community. What’s so wonderful about it is that it’s short and sweet — something happens and then people go off and maybe have a pint or a meal. It markets Henley as a fun place to visit.”
The night’s sponsor is luxury watch manufacturer Bremont, which is based off Marlow Road.
Henley fire station will host the second night after last year’s memorable singing performance by firefighters.
Watch manager Terry Coupar said: “We were asked back as we had a great reception last year. It is good for us to get out there in the community. We have also worked with Henley in Bloom this year.I think the calendar is a good community effort and it is good to see the businesses involved. I hope it is a busy night for the businesses in the town but not for us!”
The night is supported by the Argyll pub.
On the third night, the Regal Picturehouse will show the winning entry from a film competition supported by the Henley Standard.
Assistant manager Scott Woodhouse said: “It is nice for us to give something back to the community and it is a fantastic prize to have your film played on the big screen.”
The night is sponsored by Waitrose.
The fourth night is on board the New Orleans, owned by Hobbs of Henley.
Vivienne Connery, who runs the Chocolate Café in Thames Side, which is supporting the event, said: “The Living Advent Calendar is great for the town.
“It will keep people shopping every night as people have the opportunity to be in town.
“Even if the shops are not open people can see what kind of shops Henley has and, of course, the night is great fun.” The River and Rowing Museum will host the fifth performance, supported by the calendar’s major sponsor Sotheby’s International Realty.
Marketing and operations manager Catherine Yoxall said: “We have been involved since the first year and it is a lovely opportunity to discover different parts of the town such as the museum. It will make everyone feel festive and brings people together as a community.”
The sixth performance will be above Boutique 97 in Friday Street and is supported by the Anchor pub in the same road.
Landlord Jeremy Buckler said he was very pleased to support the event. The following night’s entertainment will be at Leander Club, supported by Brakspear.
Robert Treharne Jones, the club’s press and publicity officer, said: “Leander Club is pleased once again to be hosting one of the events.
“Over the short number of years it has been running, the calendar has been a welcome addition to the town’s festivities and we look forward to helping the town to attract more visitors and provide an added attraction to our residents.”
Phyllis Court Club is the eighth host venue, supported by Boatique and Henley Sales and Charter.
Club director Graham Owen said: “We are going to invite people into the club because last year we had it out on the terrace, which was cold. We are going to be having mulled wine and mince pies in our Finlay Suite and we are really looking forward to it.
“The calendar gives a nice community feel and I think it is good when there is always something going on, not just on one occasion but over a period of time. It is something one can pop along to once or twice, which is super.”
Stuart Turner, a new venue, will hosted the ninth night, supported by the Henley Brew House.
Cathy Stevens, personal assistant to the firm’s managing director, said: “We are all excited about it. We have always had the Christmas shopping event but this goes on for longer.”
Another new venue this year is the Shaun Dickens restaurant, off Station Road, which will host the 10th performance, supported by legal firm Henmans Freeth.
Partner Samantha Leigh said: “Henley is such a thriving place for retail and business and it is a pleasure to be a part of it. This is no little market town, there is so much more to it and the calendar is a great way of showing that.”
The Angel on the Bridge pub will host the 11th night, supported by the Copas Partnership.
Marketing assistant Amy Himsworth said: “Copas Traditional Turkeys has received a wonderful amount of support over the years from the local community, which is why we like to be able to give something back.
“The days leading up to Christmas are hectic for all of us but the event gives people a fun 15 minutes of pure Christmas spirit to get them through. The calendar allows us all to come together and really enjoy what our area has to offer.”
The 12th night will be at the Empstead Works in Greys Road, supported by Lawlor’s bakery.
Nicola Taylor, who helps run the bakery, said: “I have been to nearly every night in previous years. When it first started you wondered ‘what on earth is this?’ but it is quite fun and silly and it does give a sense of community spirit.
“I thought it would be good to get the bakery involved as it is a great opportunity to show people what we do. People will be able to come into the bakery afterwards and try our mince pies and gingerbread houses.”
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 97, 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 Road; 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.
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.
There will be a raffle each night, except December 1, and Living Advent Calendar red hats will be on sale for £2 each.
For more information, visit www.livingadventcalendar.co.uk