The Christmas magic begins in Henley for the annual Christmas Festival on Friday evening.
A lantern parade by local primary school children will kick-off the celebrations at 5pm, starting from the River & Rowing Museum. It will then be led by the Town Crier and the Henley Mayor along Thameside to the new Santa’s Grotto at the Kenton Theatre on New Street. Santa’s Grotto will be open until 8.30pm with Father Christmas giving away a free present, kindly donated by Invesco Perpetual and Tesco. In addition to Santa, children will have the chance to meet Mr Toad from the River & Rowing Museum as well as the Sheriff of Nottingham and the Fairy from this year’s Kenton panto Robin Hood. The museum will also be providing free children’s activities and face painting, HAODS will be singing carols at 5.30pm and 6.30pm while staff from the Regal Picturehouse will be popping by in Star Wars costumes.
A Christmas Market will be offering a selection of gift ideas and seasonal fayre on Duke Street and in Market Place as well as local charity stalls. Bell Street for the first time will be hosting a festive food festival with a huge range of comforting food and drinks on offer from mulled wine and German Bratwurst to traditional roasted chestnuts and sweet and savoury crepes – complete with it’s own seating area. Hart Street will feature the illuminated ferris wheel and traditional fairground rides including a helter skelter.
Many retailers will be opening late and offering special festive offers and/or refreshments.
Market Place will be hosting a live music stage for the evening and the first performance of the Living Advent Calendar will appear at 6.15pm.
At 7pm Lottie Baker, winner of the Mayor’s Christmas Card competition will help the Mayor turn on the big Christmas tree lights and afterwards there will be traditional carol singing around the tree accompanied by Woodley Concert Band.
The roads will be closed from 3pm until 10pm for the Christmas Festival. There will be no vehicle access in or out of Bell Street, Friday Street, Duke Street and Market Place from 4pm and in Hart Street from 3pm.