A Toyland Christmas

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Christmas draws closer

It seems only yesterday that the days were long and warm (-ish) and the town was filled with tourists and holidaymakers. And yet suddenly Christmas lights are appearing, shop windows are beginning to be decorated and Rye Christmas Festival is only three weeks away, on Saturday December 9.

The theme this year is Toyland and events will be centred mainly (but not exclusively) around the High Street, Cinque Ports Street and The Strand.

Cheers and partisan support as teams set off on several laps of the High Street for the Christmas pudding race

The High Street and town centre will be closed to traffic and, in the afternoon, starting at 2pm it will be the venue for the now-traditional races. Billed as light hearted – and certainly fun to watch – competition is nevertheless fierce in the Christmas pudding race and the Santa relay. For those of you who like to watch big strong men (and women) giving their all, the races are followed by the tug o’ war, so come and cheer on the team of your choice.

Later, from 4:30pm there is the parade, with groups, clubs, schools, local charities and, who knows, maybe even Rye’s very own fire-breathing dragon, starting at the station and processing through the Landgate and down the High Street. It will be led by Santa and his reindeer-pulled sleigh and the Mayor who, after the parade, will make his traditional Christmas speech from the steps of the George Hotel. To ward away the cold, you may well be offered a glass of warming mulled wine and a mince pie (or two) as you wander down the street beneath the Christmas lights.

Father Christmas with sleigh and reindeer

As in previous years, the Strand, too, will be busy. The main performance area is in the Strand car park with singers, dancers and bands almost non-stop from 11am until 4:30pm. Overlooking the Strand is the Old Borough Arms which, once again, will be hosting Mother Christmas for the younger ones while mum and dad can recuperate by joining Scrooge and Jacob Marley for a glass of prosecco.

Mother Christmas may be in the Strand, but hubby, aka Father Christmas will be in his grotto and workshop, located this year in the Cinque Ports Inn garden. He is very popular and you do need to book in advance. Details below.

Cinque Ports Street is also hosting the new, improved Christmas Market with a wide selection of stall holders and a must-visit area for everyone and if you still have the energy, the Victorian carousel is just a few yards away in the Market.

There is much more happening around the town and next week we will look at some of the other events and attractions.

For more information and bookings (where required) go to the Christmas Festival website.

Photos: Rye News library from previous years

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