A look ahead to Clitheroe at Christmas

With not a Christmas turkey in sight Paul Howard and assistants, Keavy Hargreaves, Victoria Houghton

With not a Christmas turkey in sight Paul Howard and assistants, Keavy Hargreaves, Victoria Houghton and Beth Pope offer 73 varieties of sausage at Cowmand Butchers in Castle Street - Credit: Archant

Julie Frankland takes us on a tour of her home town to showcase Clitheroe’s Christmas attractions. Photography by Kirsty Thompson

Close shave....Barber, Joseph Lanzante and customer, David Thornton

Close shave....Barber, Joseph Lanzante and customer, David Thornton - Credit: Archant

CHRISTMAS is coming and for me, there’s only one place to celebrate it – at home. And this year, I’d like to invite you all round to mine!

Home for me is Clitheroe in the lush Ribble Valley, a castle-topped market town with genuine festive spirit. So, if you’re weary of pacing gaudily decorated but sterile shopping malls for your Christmas gifts or fed up worrying whether it’s already too late to guarantee your online order will arrive before the big day, head on over.

If you can make it on Saturday, December 5th, that would be perfect for that’s the date Clitheroe Chamber of Trade & Commerce is hosting its Clitheroe Christmas Festival that runs across the town.

President Daniel Williams is billing the event as a way of ‘getting Christmas started’ and showcasing what Clitheroe has to offer. It’s no coincidence that his members have chosen to tie-in their celebration with an event called ‘Small Business Saturday’.

Daniel explains: ‘Small Business Saturday is a national campaign that’s all about supporting our local high streets and we’re hoping to encourage people closer to home to do just that by laying on lots of extra fun and exciting activities in Clitheroe. In the main, they’re free but where we do make a nominal charge, the money is all for charity and this year, our chosen charity is North West Air Ambulance.’

The festival starts with the arrival of who else but Santa, who gives his reindeer a rest to journey to Clitheroe by train. He’s due in on the 10.20am service after which he will process through town to his grotto, which has been especially decorated for him by local school children. You’ll find that by the Atrium Café Bar at Clitheroe Castle Museum, should you have little ones anxious to pay him a visit. Santa will be in residence from 11am to 4pm. There is a visit charge of £3 per child or £5 for two children but remember, it’s for charity and helping others is what Christmas is all about!

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While you’re up at the castle museum, why not explore the collections? The museum is open from noon to 4pm and there’s a festive treasure hunt inside to further entertain any youngsters you may have with you. Come 2pm, there’s storytime and before it gets dark, you might to want to explore the tranquil Castle Park, which has a maze and play area. You’ll also get a great view of Clitheroe if you climb the Norman keep, the town’s famous castle.

From your vantage point, you’ll be able to look down to Castle Street which should be buzzing with festive musical entertainment – every genre from jazz to choral covered – and street panto, courtesy of Clitheroe theatre company, Ribcaged Productions.

Just behind Castle Street’s Swan & Royal Hotel is Swan Courtyard and from 2-30pm until 4-30pm, this little gem of a shopping quarter is hosting free Christmas craft activities for children. The hotel is also putting on a hog roast.

Almost opposite it on the other side of the street is the Rose and Crown. It has a rear car park and there you’ll find a collection of charity craft stalls. You’ll want to get back to Swan Courtyard though for about 4-30pm when the Rev Andy Froud, of Clitheroe Parish Church, will lead the town’s much-loved Walking Nativity, which you’re welcome to join.

Follow Joseph and Mary, on her donkey, up to the crib at the Castle Gates for a traditional carol service. You may have already met Mary’s donkey as in the afternoon, there are children’s donkey rides from by the Castle Gates. Alternatively, you may already find yourself up by the crib as from 4.30pm, star of Britain’s Got Talent Ella Shaw, who is from the down the road in Langho, will be performing her repertoire of Christmas songs.

‘This is actually only the second festival of its kind we’ve organised but our intention is to grow it year on year,’ said Daniel. ‘We already have plans for an ice rink for next year but in 2015 and we’re hoping visitors will really enjoy themselves and experience the true Christmas spirit.’

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