From a real reindeer sanctuary to a French Christmas market and Santa Parade, the historic town will be oozing with family fun this festive season
The historic town of Basingstoke* has this Christmas all wrapped up with an extravaganza of festive family events throughout November and December including: a real reindeer sanctuary, a Santa parade and old-fashioned style grotto. A Christmas light switch on by the cast of the Panto in the Festival Place shopping centre on 11 November kicks-off the Christmas activities. For the latest news follow @inbasingstoke on social media.
Basingstoke is one of the UK’s oldest market towns – there’s even reference to its vibrant market in the Doomsday Book. This year, to resurrect this history, the town is staging a French-themed Christmas market on the 18th November, with delicious cheeses, chocolates, meats, sweets and gifts. Then, from the 23rd November right up until Christmas, there will be a traditional Christmas market in The Malls, selling gifts, decorations, crafts, mulled wine and other goodies.
Guided Historical Christmas Walks
Recently given a top 20 status of U.K. shopping centres, Festival Place will also change its name to Festive Place for the Christmas season. Plus there will be a selection of guided walks including one of Basingstoke’s historical heart, Top of the Town, and a Jane Austin tour taking in the country houses where the author danced and fell in love. (Hidden Britain Tours)
Midday on Sunday 4th December will see the return of the much-loved Festival Place Santa Parade, featuring some superb street theatre and an array of Christmassy characters marching from Marks & Spencer to Festival Square. Leading the event will be Santa himself, he will be accompanied by a parade of festive acts as well as acrobats and retailer mascots.
From 8 December to 2 January, Basingstoke’s acclaimed Anvil will be staging a magical production of Sleeping Beauty, starring Sue Holderness as the Bad Fairy (Only Fools and Horses), Katrina Bryan (CBeebies’ Nina and the Neurons) as Sleeping Beauty and Sarah-Jane Buckley (Hollyoaks) as the Good Fairy.
From 1 to 4 December the town’s Haymarket Theatre will put on a magical production of The Night Before Christmas and from 7-10 December the cast of the spine tingling thriller Who Killed Santa Claus will take to the stage.
Other highlights of the Haymarket’s Christmas season include The Rat Pack Live Christmas Party 15 to 17 December and Christmas Carol 20 December. (01256 844244, http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/)
Preschoolers will love Proteus Theatres’ festive show “How do Reindeer Fly?” from 15 to 24 December.
Late Night Shopping
Basingstoke is a shoppers’ paradise and will offer late night shopping every evening except Sundays at Festival Place and The Malls. Visitors will be spoilt for choice with stores for all tastes and budgets, within a very compact area, most of which is pedestrianised. The shopping experiences range from designer brands and high street fashion to pop up shops like The Amazing Chocolate Workshop and a craft shop featuring items from forty local talented makers located in Festival Place by the exit to Top of Town.
For those wanting to add the personal touch to their seasonal gifts and decorations, the Basingstoke Discovery Centre in Festival Place is putting on a host of workshops including: a Felt Workshop on 17 November, a Christmas Papercraft Workshop on 30 November and the chance to make a rustic Willow Angel and Shaker-style decorations on 17 December. The workshops start from just £15 per person.
Alice and Wonderland – 12 November to 14 January
The British Library’s Alice in Wonderland exhibition, celebrating 150 years since this magical story was published, will also move into the Town’s Willis Museum for Christmas. On 23 November, visitors can join curator Andie Lloyd for a tour of the exhibition. Tickets must be pre booked and cost £8 per person.
There’s also an interactive story telling session from Alice herself at various times on 26 November. Tickets are £4.50 per child, suitable for ages 3 to 8. (01256 465902)