A festive feast of activities

Carols, trees, celebrations, commerce and more – Lymington has it all wrapped up this Christmas, as Charlotte Tomlinson-White discovers

When it comes to getting into the festive spirit, what better place to be than in the market town of Lymington with its charming cobbled streets, elegant Georgian architecture and host of festive activities. 

 Christmas in LymingtonDid you know Solent Radio voted Lymington ‘top Christmas Lights destination’ in 2008? Each year, with the support of Lymington Community Foundation, the Lymington Community Christmas team transform the High Street and surrounding areas into a festive feast for the eyes with a magnificent lighting display. But the celebrations don’t stop there – the team work hard to ensure fun and pleasure is felt by all for over five weeks – raising community spirit and keeping Lymington a vibrant and happy place throughout Christmas. Last year’s highlights included fireworks, lasers, live music and shooting flames, and this year visitors and residents alike can expect much of the same, but the star of the celebrations was Lymington’s largest ever Street Party attracting a whopping 10,000 people. The town is showered with festivities from visits from Santa and Christmas shop window displays to late night shopping and Christmas trees – last year the tallest tree on Captain’s Row could be seen from the Isle of Wight.

ShoppingIn Lymington, shopping is an experience to be enjoyed rather than endured and the town is certainly set for you to indulge in some Christmas shopping.  Angel CourtyardWith 14 individual and independently owned shops, selling everything from gifts, furniture and homeware, fashion, children’s clothes, fresh flowers and organic skincare, and a soon-to-be-opened silver jewellery outlet shop, Angel Courtyard has plenty to offer this Christmas time. Even food lovers are catered for here with a traditional sweetshop, greengrocer, butchers and tasty deli. To mark the start of the season, the Courtyard will be erecting and decorating a large Christmas tree (rumoured to be 25ft tall) which will take pride of place in the middle of the courtyard.To add to the festive flavour there will be roasted chestnuts available over weekends, and Enigma Furnishings will be offering a complimentary glass of mulled wine to all customers throughout December. Plans are already in motion to secure carol singers and the Salvation Army Band to provide live musical entertainment in the Courtyard, following the success of their presence last year. Yuletide in LymingtonLymington will be holding its annual festive street fair ‘Yuletide In Lymington’ on Wednesday, December 8. Showcasing the very best that Hampshire (especially Lymington and the New Forest) has to offer, the event will be taking place between 1pm and 8pm and promises to have something for everyone. Head inside the large Yuletide marquee and discover a wide variety of local foods, crafts and Christmas goodies, while outside on the High Street (which will be closed to traffic) there will be live entertainment from bands and local choirs. Don’t worry if you’ve worked up an appetite after all the shopping; satisfy your hunger with the hog roast and venison sausages cooking nearby and delight in the aroma.Organised by the Rotary Club of Lymington, Father Christmas will also be on the High Street to meet young visitors and listen to all their Christmas wishes, helping raise valuable funds for local charities.New Forest Hospital Radio will be playing a valuable part in the Yuletide celebrations, manning the mobile public address, conducting street interviews and taking those all important music requests from shoppers. Plus members of the public can find out about getting involved with hospital radio either as a request collector or as a programme presenter.

Late night openingLymington’s top quality independent and High Street shops (both large and small) will be complimenting the Fair by staying open until 8pm, as well as all four banks, the town’s estate agents and solicitors offices, to join in the festive fun. Plus there will be free parking in all New Forest District Council car parks in the town from 12 noon, making this late night shopping event even more appealing. See www.yuletideinlymington.co.uk or Tel. 07545 786896 for more information.   Christmas Tree FestivalCelebrate Christmas with Lymington United Reformed Church’s beautiful Christmas Tree Festival. Up to 30 trees will be decorated by local support groups and charities including the Guides, Naomi House, U3A, Rotary, Churches and Children’s Groups. Representing and promoting the services and work these organisations carry out in the area, these trees will hopefully raise much needed funds as the majority of the trees will be up for auction with donations welcome. Lymington and Pennington Town Mayor Cllr Jan Hawker will officially be opening the event at 12 noon on Wednesday, December 8, and it will stay open until 8.30pm on this day to coincide with Yuletide In Lymington.You can visit the Church daily to see the trees from 10am to 4pm up until Sunday, December 12, on which day the Church will be open from 1pm to 4pm. So pop along and place your bid (minimum is �20) to show your support and you could be the proud owner of a very unique Christmas tree.

That’s entertainmentLadyZing Choir, Sway Hand Bell Ringers and New Forest Meddlars Morris Dancers will be providing entertainment throughout the Festival. A Carol Service will mark the close of the Festival. For more information, Tel. 01590 676306

Nativity plays, carol services & Midnight MassLymington United Reformed Church isn’t the only religious institution in town celebrating this festive season. St Thomas Church and All Saints Church will also be holding a variety of events throughout December, including school nativity plays, Christmas fairs, carol services, midnight mass and of course Christmas Holy Communion on Christmas Day. Tel. 01590 676194 to find out more information.  Crafts & exhibitionsFollowing the huge success of last year’s event, the award winning St Barbe Museum will be running its pre-Christmas crafts workshop again on Tuesday, December 21 and Wednesday, December 22. Perfect for all the family, children will delight in painting glasses for presents, creating handmade cards and making glittery Christmas decorations at this drop-in event. While you are there why don’t you visit the Art Gallery? Throughout December and into early January the gallery will be displaying an exhibition on Sway and Hordle, focussing on the bizarre stories of the Hordle Shakers and the building of Sway Tower. Tel. 01590 676969 for more information.   A winter wanderEscape the hustle and bustle of all the Christmas activities and take in the fresh air with a walk along The Solent Way. Covering 60 miles, the Solent Way footpath links Milford-on-Sea with Emsworth Harbour, passing through Lymington. Much of the path follows the Hampshire coastline and also dips into the New Forest. The Solent Way presents two choices when leaving Lymington – a nine mile walk to Milford-on-Sea taking you around Lymington port to Hurst Castle and Beach with views of the Needles on the Isle of Wight; alternatively a 10 mile walk to Beaulieu crossing Lymington River, heading inland of the coast and passing Sowley Pond towards Bucklers Hard and the River Beaulieu. Why not pack a flask of mulled wine and a few mince pies to munch on route?

Getting there

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Lymington is approached from the west and north along the A337. It is easy to get from either junctions 1, 2 or 3 off the M27. The sat nav postcode for the town centre is SO41 9AA

A little further afield

The festive spirit continues throughout the area including: Christmas fayreWoodlands Pre-School will be holding their Christmas Fayre at St Mathews Church Hall, Netley Marsh on Saturday, December 4, from 2pm to 4pm. Expect stalls, raffles and Father Christmas! Entry is just 50p for adults, children get in free.  Santa’s Winter WonderlandPaultons Park, near Romsey, will be celebrating Christmas with a Winter Wonderland. Expect animated characters, seasonal illuminations and park rides, plus if you visit Santa’s grotto, children receive a present and adults enjoy hot fruit punch and a mince pie. Various dates throughout December. Tel. 023 8081 4442   Santa DashGet into the Christmas spirit at Oakhaven’s second annual charity Santa Dash. The 3k fun run will be taking place on Sunday, December 5, in Barton-On-Sea. All entry fees include your own one-size-fits-all Santa Suit and everyone is welcome, including children. All entrants receive a certificate on completion. Tel. 01590 677773

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