The large Christmas tree is up in Market Place and everyone is invited to come to the Christmas Festival on Friday (25 November) to see the lights being switched on and enjoy a festive evening in town.
The Christmas Festival will be opened by the Mayor and Town Crier at 5.00pm and there will fair ground rides, food and drink pop-ups, fundraising stalls for local charities and schools as well as Christmas gift stalls lining the main streets. Many of the retailers will be staying open for shopping too. Mr Toad will be out and about to have a selfie with and roving entertainer ‘Mistletoe’ will be sharing her love with special festive kisses part-sponsored by Ghost of the Cavalier Gin.
The 30ft Nordmann fir tree was supplied by the Tree Barn at Christmas Common and sponsored by Invesco.
Father Christmas’ Grotto will be in a new venue this year at the Christ Church Centre which will be open from 4.00-8.00pm and is FREE to all with a gift for every child, thanks to the support of Invesco and local businesses. Anyone wishing to donate can do so to charity partner The Chiltern Centre, who will also be on hand with a special raffle. The cast of Reading Rep Theatre’s A Christmas Carol will be making an appearance to spread festive cheer and sing some Christmas carols, while in-demand local make-up artist Marnie Spiers will be returning for free face-painting. On Saturday morning for the first time there will be a special session for Special Educational Needs (SEN) children, thanks to the Chiltern Centre and Party Planners; email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to reserve a free place. This marks the sixth annual Henley Santa’s Grotto run by Tom Ryan and Paula Price Davies. Toms said, “We are thrilled to bring Santa and his Grotto to Christ Church, a real community hub run by a wonderful team. It was wonderful seeing the faces of children – and their grown-ups! – last year and I’m pleased to say the queue will be partly indoors this year!”
The main stage in front of the Town Hall this year will see performers from this year’s Glow Festival at 6.00pm, the Kenton Theatre panto characters at 6.45pm, Christmas songs by Daisy Smith at 7.20pm and Saxcellerate will finish the evening’s entertainment starting at 8.10pm.
The Mayor and the winner of the Mayor’s Christmas card competition will switch on the lights at 7.00pm. Afterwards there will be carol singing led by Daisy Smith and accompanied by the Woodley Concert Band.
Road closures from 15:00 to 23:00 to all vehicular traffic will be in place:
- Hart Street
- Bell Street from its junction with New Street
- A4155 Reading Road to its junction with Greys Road
- Friday Street from Queen Street junction to A4155 Reading Road
- Market Place
- West Street from its junction with Kings Road to junction with exit of Greys Road
The Christmas weekend continues with markets in Market Place with a Farmers Market on Saturday and a Craft Market on Sunday.