Skate into Christmas

Fun on the ice rink in the Castle Mall gardens, next to Norwich Castle. Picture: Denise Bradley

Fun on the ice rink in the Castle Mall gardens, next to Norwich Castle. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

Under the glistening Christmas lights, Burnham Market is bustling with life as it plans a festive celebration to bring the community together

The crowds of summer tourists might have gradually dissipated, but Burnham Market by no means goes into winter hibernation – the community reclaims its village and it bustles with life of a different kind.

Of course, at weekends parking spaces will be full and there will still be plenty of visitors eating, drinking and pottering around, but this time of year it is those living locally who buzz around the town, popping to the newsagents or fishmongers after the school run or stopping for a coffee and a natter.

While Burnham Market has a tag of being not only a major magnet for holiday visitors but also a second home hot spot, it also has its own strong community – those that live there 365 days a year.

This Christmas, the Traders’ Association is focusing on the importance of that sense of community with lots of celebrations aimed at bringing together all of those who live in the village for a weekend of festive skating and fun.

Laura Pocock, chairman of the Burnham Market Traders’ association, says it is essential to consider the needs of all those who live in, work in and visit the village.

“The dynamics of the village this time of year are very different to the summer. Although in the summer months it is always heaving with people, it is often visitors coming into the town, perhaps doing a spot of shopping or staying on holiday here, and then dashing off to the coast. But also we have a very strong core community here, including the village school, that really helps make Burnham Market the special place it is. It is essential we can organise events and create initiatives that benefit both us as businesses and for those who live here.”

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The picturesque green at the centre of the village is surrounded by beautiful 17th and 18th century buildings and the village combines that rich history with a very cosmopolitan selection of independent businesses such as art galleries, antique shops, boutiques and interior stores. It also has a great mix of practical day-to-day shops, such as the greengrocer, fishmonger, butcher and newsagents as well as many other stores selling everything from homewares, food and books to clothes, shoes and gifts.

“The Traders’ Association is a voice for the traders to help promote and protect the village and all the independent shops and services which make it so unique and special,” says Laura, who owns The Artmongers gallery in Burnham Market. “There are a number of things we want to do which we hope will benefit the whole community, from launching a ‘shop watch’ scheme, where all traders have one another’s contact numbers should they spot a problem at each other’s businesses, to organising events in the village for everyone to enjoy – starting with Christmas.”

This year’s Christmas lights will give the market place and green a magical, wintry atmosphere and the weekend before Christmas, it will take on an even more special feeling with the opening of an outdoor skating rink.

“At Christmas the village always feels much more family-orientated, with the primary school choir singing, and the lights all glistening. But we felt after the big light switch-on, we didn’t take advantage of that festive atmosphere when the village looks at its most beautiful. With the support of The Hoste, we will have the skating rink open for three days on Fairstead Green by the church which we hope will see everyone in the community of all ages coming along and getting involved, as well as attracting visitors from nearby,” she says.

“On the Saturday, the rink will stay open later and there will be carol singing, mince pies and mulled wines and a little fairground. We will be encouraging shops and businesses to stay open later and there will be plenty of opportunity to get food, drink and perhaps some last minute gifts.”