Counting Down To Christmas: Six weeks of festive fun underway in Scarborough
Scarborough is Counting Down To Christmas with a six week festive ‘variety show’ extravaganza to entertain shoppers and boost tourism.
The seaside town will become a Grinch-free zone as a cast of magicians, musicians, street performers, famous panto characters – and Father Christmas - assemble to help bring glitter, glee and glam to its streets and stores.
Counting Down to Christmas, a new six-week festival, is a mission to make Christmas shopping fun and is the brainchild of local businesses with funding from Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID).
“Counting Down to Christmas will be Yorkshire’s largest Christmas variety show, guaranteed to put us in a feel-good festive spirit, as we enjoy Scarborough’s extravaganza of eclectic shops, indoor markets and attractions!” explains Sue Anderson-Brown, centre manager at Brunswick Shopping Centre and chair of the new town centre Christmas Steering Group.
“Scarborough has been Yorkshire’s showbiz capital for centuries, so we’re drawing on that great tradition of entertainment to make sure that the entire town sparkles this Christmas season like no other. It’s also a celebration of Scarborough as a great place to shop, with its fantastic mix of high street retailers and independents, and friendly atmosphere – everything you’d want for Christmas from a premier coastal town.”
During the major new festival Father Christmas will arrive by sailboat and Queen Victoria will time-travel to the Victorian Christmas Market.
Meanwhile, on every Late Night Shopping Thursday and weekends in the countdown to Christmas, visitors to the town centre will be able to enjoy a magic lanternful of ever-changing festive fun from glitterfest drag queens to traditional Christmas carol-singing, from magic to music, from storytelling to street theatre – and including pantomime characters taking over the town.
Sue adds: “As Counting Down to Christmas is a partnership of local retailers and attractions, every week showcases something different. It’s all designed to take the stress out of Christmas shopping, transforming the town centre into a place where festive fun reigns. We want the Christmas Countdown to be just as magical as Christmas itself – a time when families can enjoy being together, having fun.”
The show opened on at the Big Light Switch-On, with the help of celebrity star guests waving their magic wands and a spectacular laser-light show, while the town’s pantomime stars – including favourites from Treasure Island, Cinderella, and Jack & the Beanstalk - brought some Christmas magic to the streets.
Other Counting Down to Christmas highlights – all taking place on Late Night Thursday, Saturday and Sunday - includes the following key dates:
Saturday, November 16: Santa arrives by boat – but will he be kidnapped on his way to Boyes store by the pirates from Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Treasure Island? Follow the street parade to find out…
From Thursday, November 21: The inaugural ‘variety show’ weekend is strictly sparkling with dancers from the Julie Hatton Dance School, and a vintage blast from the past from Scarborough Music Band and a magnificent fairground organ from Scarborough Fair Collection (also playing on December 1, 8, 14 and 22).
The pirate crew from the Stephen Joseph Theatre will also be marauding around the town encouraging all ages to take part in the Treasure Island-inspired treasure trail, with prizes drawn each Thursday evening, from November 21, at 7pm
From Thursday, November 28: The cast - and enchanted carriage – from Scarborough Spa’s Cinderella have a ball in the town, while Yorkshire Coast legend Magic Mike, celebrating his 25th anniversary, and Chuck from Scarborough Spa will be bringing highlights from their Christmas show. Meanwhile, performers from The Christmas Cracker make a stir in the Brunswick Centre, and Glitterfest drag queens take over the library.
From Thursday, December 5: Pirates from Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Treasure Island invade the town centre, with magical and mischievous help from the cast of the YMCA’s Jack & the Beanstalk and the Naughty Christmas Tree.
Between Tuesday and Sunday, December 10 - 15: The town steps into the world of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, as Queen Victoria makes a royal visit for her 250th birthday celebrations to the Victorian market in the town centre. She’ll definitely be amused by the traders in full period costume at their uniquely themed Victorian market stalls, with Victorian games, magic and street theatre throughout the weekend
On Saturday, December 14 and Thursday, December 19: The cast from YMCA’s Jack & the Beanstalk help shoppers keep calm and smiling, as Counting Down to Christmas starts its final week…
During the festival, visitors will also be able to see a giant Frozen ice sculpture, create Christmas cocktails, and listen to carols galore. Elsewhere in town, a very busy Santa can be seen in his Grotto at Boyes store, at Scarborough Sealife, and on the North Bay Railway.
Janet Deacon, Tourism and Corporate Marketing Manager for Scarborough Borough Council and Area Director for Welcome to Yorkshire says: “The Yorkshire Coast is an ideal destination for Christmas shopping - with top-name high-street stores alongside a huge range of unique artisan shops, there’s enough choice to make any Christmas wish come true.
"This is a fantastic initiative being led by the retailers and cultural attractions to make Christmas shopping a treat not a chore, so alongside the wealth of entertainment in town, the town’s hotels & B&Bs are also laying on Christmas pampering packages, while visitors can indulge in some relaxing time-out in the new Alpamare Wellness Spa – all hoping that we can tempt visitors to stay a little longer.”
To make shoppers even happier, there’s also free car parking on Late Night Thursdays and also on Sundays in December, in the council’s town centre car parks. The Brunswick Shopping Centre’s car park will also be free on Thursdays.
East Yorkshire Motor Services Buses will be adding extra evening services across their local network during the Counting Down to Christmas festival, so people can be car free to make the most of late night shopping.
For more information about Counting Down to Christmas, including a full line-up of events visit www.scarboroughchristmas.co.uk, or talk to the friendly, dedicated team at the Tourism Bureau on 01723 383636.
To find out more about festive activity and places to stay along the Yorkshire Coast during November and December, visit www.discoveryorkshirecoast.com.
Yorkshire Coast BID: Web: www.yorkshirecoastbid.co.uk