Saturday December 9 was a lovely day for Rye’s Christmas celebration “Toyland”, compared to the days that followed, as it was sunny and dry.
But it was very, very cold, or so it seemed. The bar, pictured above, was probably welcomed by the adults therefore as it offered alcoholic hot chocolate along with mulled wine, a shot of port, and various cocktails.
Some of the street stalls including the Sea Cadets also helped to keep the adults warm with seasonal hot drinks and food.
All the children probably did not notice the cold though, until they got tired, and excitement was very much in the air from the first arrival of the toy train at 11:00am by the station car park.
And the excitement continued through the day until the procession along the High Street in the late afternoon (a shorter route this year) as darkness fell and “Toyland” closed down with the traditional carol service in the parish church of St Mary’s at the top of Lion Street.
This year there were some changes, with Father Christmas’s grotto being found in the garden of the Cinque Port Arms rather than in East Street Museum – but the queue seemed just as long.
And the nearby reindeer attracted as much interest as when they were down by the Strand. But, unlike last year, there was no big stage behind the Cinque Port Arms and the main stage was down by the Strand – where shivering performers warmed up before going through their paces.
Dancers featured strongly there and included Rye Dance School, Miss Kimmy’s Dance School and the Dancing Divas.
Singers on stage included the Wall of Sound choir which also popped up at the Buttermarket with other choirs and featured in the closing event, the Community Carol Concert.
Sport also featured in the tug-of-war and the Christmas pudding race.
Some people got dressed up for the occasion, though many saved themselves for the procession, which featured amazing illuminated Christmas lanterns from a group of local primary schools, in a festival collaboration with Radiator Arts from Hastings.
The Christmas market was in the Cinque Ports Street car park, though some food and drink was wisely provided by the Strand stage – and the High Street was busy with families travelling between the principal areas of activity.
Performers got some shelter in the smaller stage in the Butter Market under the 18th century Town Hall in Market Street, but the buskers outside The George Hotel were rather exposed. However, the Mayor popped along later to present prizes once it was dark.
Stalls, choirs and carol singers appeared all over the place – and any serving hot drink and hot food were particularly popular. A bulging bag of hot chips was particularly useful to keep the cold at bay and a couple of police uniforms were seen in the queue at Marino’s in The Mint.
Rye News photographers Kenneth Bird and John Minter report elsewhere in this edition on what they saw, particularly during the closing procession.
Photos: Rye News photographers
Photos: Rye News photographers
Image Credits: Heidi Foster .