Award-Winning Living Advent Calendar to Return This Christmas

The award winning and original UK Living Advent Calendar returns to Henley on Thames this December after a two year enforced sabbatical.

First staged in 2011 – with a format that has received nationwide attention, been replicated in towns and cities throughout the UK, and been the recipient of a David Cameron ‘Big Society Award’ in 2013 – the event last took place in 2019.  It was not possible to put on the event in 2020 and 2021 due to lockdown restrictions, but the Living Advent Calendar returns for a delayed 10th outing this year.

Event organiser Richard Rodway, who first took on responsibility for the event in 2014, said, “After a really rough couple of years for people, which shows no signs of easing now amidst the latest (cost of living) crisis, we are sure that everyone is looking forward to something so unashamedly joyous this December.”

The event was the idea of the Henley Business Partnership in 2011, designed to boost tourism and retail (traditionally synonymous with the town’s summers events) in the winter. The Dickensian feel and charm of the town provides an idyllic backdrop to the event, much of which involves outdoor performances.

Each evening, the audience gathers at that night’s venue at 6.15pm for a surprise 30 minute performance, quite often staged through an ‘advent’ door or window.  The event brings together large cross-sections of the local community, visiting iconic, picture-postcard venues such as St Mary’s Church, the Angel on the Bridge pub and Leander Club, as well as hidden gems that may be less well known such as the gardens of Simmons & Sons estate agents on Bell Street and (for the first time this year) the English Heritage supported Thames Lodge. Thames Lodge is one of six new venues to the schedule this year, along with The Relais, the Anchor Pub, Eyot Centre, Trinity Hall and The Catherine Wheel pub.

In addition to a surprise performance over a tasty mince pie and mulled wine, each night serves as a platform and fundraiser for a different local charity, with a raffle to help swell donations.  “We raised more for good causes than ever before in 2019,” stated Richard. “Local charities and good causes need our help more than ever this year and, notwithstanding the tight financial times that we find ourselves in, hopefully we can do as well again, if not better. But in any event we look forward to seeing as a many people as possible, as we collectively spreading and sharing some much needed festive cheer.”

For more information contact Richard Rodway via email: or phone: 07920 589675

You can also follow the Living Advent Calendar on Facebook and Twitter, or visit their website.