Friday, 27 November 2015

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Christmas is fast approaching and there are lots of fun things happening in Newbury in the lead up to the big day.

Hurry down to Newbury town centre on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 November which is when Father Christmas arrives. The man in red will be in his grotto in the Market Place from 10.30am to 4pm on Saturday and 12.30 to 4pm on Sunday. Pop in and meet him and his reindeer and have your photo taken.

From 12 noon on Sunday 29 November Newbury is going to be action packed with festive fun and entertainment on the main stage in the Market Place and at Parkway Shopping. The word is that there will be some special characters out and about just longing to have a ‘selfie’ taken with you!

Who doesn’t love ‘Frozen’? Then get along to Parkway between 11am and 4pm on Sunday 29 November. At Debenhams’s Piazza there will be a ‘Frozen’ singalong and ‘meet and greet’, plus live music from local singing sensation Emma Lawrence and local choirs too.

As dusk starts to fall, there will be magic in the air as from 4.15pm Father Christmas will be on board his sleigh and the Christmas parade will wend its way from Market Street, past the Kennet Centre, along Northbrook Street to the Clock Tower, then along London Street to Parkway to finally end in the Market Place. Pick your prime spot to wave as the parade goes by or follow it through the town.

And then … the lighting of the magnificent Christmas tree in the Market Place, when we can truly say Christmas in Newbury has begun.

But this is only the start of the festive activities. If you miss Father Christmas on 28/29 November, don’t worry – you can still seek him out in his grotto at Parkway, opposite Debenhams from 4–6 December and 17–23 December (Monday to Saturday 10am–5pm and Sundays 11am–4pm).

Thursday 17 December is definitely a date for your diary as both during the day and evening Newbury will be awash with entertainment, late-night shopping opportunities and choirs.

Activities start at midday with children’s rides throughout the town, street entertainers and festive market stalls … and even three wise men on camels!

Road closure is extended to 9pm for a safe, traffic-free environment, and there is free parking 5–9pm at Parkway, Kennet Centre and Northbrook multi-storey car parks.

As it starts to get dark, local choirs will be out and about singing in different parts of town, before everyone gathers in the Market Place for the grand finale: the fantastic Choir of 1,000 Voices – a truly special annual Christmas event in Newbury. You don’t need to be in a choir to join them, just turn up and you will be given a free song sheet so that you can join in the singalong (and hold on to that song sheet for a chance to win a £100 John Lewis voucher).

Here’s to a very merry Newbury Christmas!




Monday, 2 November 2015

Biddy at Newbury Artisan

What a busy half-term it’s been in Newbury, with the brilliant Halloween Haunt Hunt running all week in the town and then hot on its heels the first Newbury Artisan Sunday market taking place on 1 November.

Despite it being a cloudy day there were lots of sunny smiles in the town centre which was buzzing with families, couples and individuals out and about enjoying both the Farmers’ Market in Market Place and Newbury Artisan running the length of Northbrook Street.

The Farmers’ Market had a great choice of meats, fish, eggs, cheeses, apple juice, beers and fresher-than-fresh seasonal vegetables. Yummy. (And despite the fact that I’m told it’s going to shorten my life, I could not resist buying some delicious dry-cured bacon from a lovely lady from Dews Meadow Farm Shop.)

And then onto Northbrook Street where stalls stretched for just about as far as the eye could see.

Artisan is a well-used word at the moment but it perfectly described the eclectic, exciting displays of food, drink and crafts on offer.

Having arrived on lunchtime, the senses were alive with a huge choice of street foods, from paella and pulled pork rolls to pies and pastries. The bread, buns and patisserie were right up my street and mouth-wateringly good; never mind a sliced white, give me a rustic sourdough or seeded spelt loaf any day.

Tutts Clump Cider put in an appearance and was doing its usual roaring trade, and there was another stall with sparkling wine which was proving popular. Oh yes, and some gorgeous fishcakes to take home; they will be putting in an appearance on our dining table later this week.

And what else? Bags, cushions, hand-felted plant pots, and a clever idea of 3-D paintings crafted from your own photograph. The silver jewellery which you could have personalised, for example with your child’s finger print or your four-legged-friend’s paw print, looked very cute and would make a perfect present.

Then there were very pretty shabby-chic home furnishings, and vintage clothing put in an appearance with some cleverly reconstructed pieces that gave them a whole new look.

Jack FM was providing lively musical entertainment and children were enjoying colouring in masks at the Newbury BID stand, but one particularly intriguing stall that was attracting a lot of attention was the one offering the chance to hold a wild creature for £1. Personally I did not feel the need, but there were plenty of others who were enjoying having Hissing Sid draped around their necks!

Shops, restaurants and caf├ęs that were open were also making the most of the extra footfall and drawing in the crowds, so it was good news all round.

All in all it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday, and it’s great to know that Newbury Artisan is going to be a regular monthly event in 2016.

See you there next time.

Biddy x