Thursday, 11 August 2022

Festivals and events fill Christmas calendar

Festivals and events fill Christmas calendar

THOUSANDS of people will pour into Henley next Friday for the town’s annual Christmas festival.

The town centre will be closed to traffic from 4pm to 10pm for the traditional celebrations, including the switch-on of the lights on the 30ft Nordmann fir in Falaise Square.

There will be fairground rides and attractions in Hart Street, festive market stalls in Market Place and Duke Street and, new for this year, a “street food court” in Bell Street.

A number of live performances will take place in Market Place from 5pm to 9pm.

Santa’s Grotto will be on the stage at the Kenton Theatre in New Street from 4pm until 8.30pm with free admission.

A children’s lantern parade will leave the River & Rowing Museum in Mill Meadows at 5pm and make its way along Riverside, Thames Side and New Street, ending at the theatre.

Lollipop elves will be there to help people cross New Street and children will be able to meet the stars of this year’s pantomime, Robin Hood, and have their faces painted.

Members of the Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society will be singing carols at the Kenton at 5.30pm and 6.30pm and the café and bar will be open, serving mulled wine.  

The opening night of this year’s Henley Living Advent Calendar will take place at the town hall steps in Market Place from 6.15pm to 6.45pm. The identity of the performers will be kept secret until the night. At 7pm the lights on the Christmas tree will be switched on by Mayor Kellie Hinton and Lottie Baker, 11, a pupil at Valley Road Primary School, who won the Mayor’s Christmas card design competition.

Also present will be Alan Trotter, of Invesco Perpetual, which sponsors the tree, and members of the pantomime cast.

At 7.10pm there will be traditional carol singing around the tree, accompanied by the Woodley Concert Band.

Paula Price-Davies, event and project manager at Henley Town Council, said the layout would be different this year.

She said: “We have been strict on what food stalls are invited and there has been a selection process so we are not having the duplication of things like hot dogs and burgers.

“We are also having some more varied food all the way down Bell Street. We have provided a couple of seating areas down there and incorporated the restaurants.”

The town’s Festive Shopping Sunday will return on December 10 with a theme of “Christmas around the world”, featuring activities for families and children.

A lot of the shops will be open from 11am to 4pm and many will offer music, mince pies and activities such as face-painting, present-wrapping, story reading and crafts.

Jonkers Rare Books in Hart Street will offer festive tipples and nibbles and a free gift-wrapping service and the Lemongrove Gallery in Duke Street will serve mulled wine and mince pies.

Monsoon and Accessorize in Hart Street will have mini hot chocolates and biscuits and the staff will wear festive outfits.

Asquiths in New Street will have a Paddington Bear-themed day with seasonal refreshments and an Edward Lear book reading at 3pm.

The Henley Pet Shop in Bell Street will have a free handmade dog biscuit for every customer (dog) that comes in.

Strada in Bell Street will have face-painting for children and the Station House pub in Market Place will be icing biscuits with children. 

In Market Place, there will be an “Alpine slope” with tubes for youngsters to slide down, a snow machine and children’s wooden ride-on cars.

There will also be festive wooden cabins selling Christmas wreaths, ornaments, table decorations, crafts and food including fondue using cheeses from the Nettlebed Creamery.

The Loch Fyne restaurant will be serving mulled wine.

Shiplake Community Choir will perform carols around the Christmas tree from noon to 2pm.

Father Christmas will be in his grotto at the town hall from noon to 3pm. Children will receive a small edible gift, sponsored by Tesco, and they can also post their letters to Santa in a special postbox.

In the shop at 24 Market Place from 11am to 4pm, the River & Rowing Museum will be doing arts and crafts with Christmas cone friends Santa, Elf and Angel to hang on the tree and there will be Wind in the Willows Christmas cards to colour in.

From 2pm to 4pm, the brownies will be wrapping presents using paper donated by Waitrose.

There will be a children’s treasure hunt through the town with an around the world theme and a prize of a family ticket (two adults and two children) to pantomime on ice at the John Nike ice rink in Bracknell.

There will also be a pop-up Kenton Theatre shop, chestnut sellers, buskers, choirs, bell ringers and more.

Town manager Helen Barnett said: “Please don’t forget to support your local retailers. You can buy everything you need for Christmas in Henley.”

On the same day, the Hambleden Valley Churches’ railway nativity will take place at Fawley Hill, starting promptly at 4pm.

The gates will be open at 2.30pm for Christmas shopping and mulled wine. Visitors will be able to have a guided tour of the railway museum and see the trains.

Santa will arrive by train at the end of the nativity with small gifts for children. Donations will be collected for local charities.

This will be followed by the 10th Living Advent Calendar performance in Market Place at 6.15pm.

Meanwhile, Santa’s grotto opens at the Toad Hall garden centre, off Marlow Road, tomorrow (Saturday).

It will be open Saturdays from 10am to 4pm and Sundays from 10.30am to 3.30pm each weekend until December 17. Entry is £6 and each child will receive a present.

Half the proceeds will be donated to the Chiltern Centre for disabled children in Henley and the Footsteps charity in Dorchester, which also supports disabled children.

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