Memories of days gone by at the 32nd Alfriston Dickensian Christmas evening
Well what is there to say, once again the Alfriston Christmas Dickensian was a truly magnificent day, the weather was kind and amazingly mild for the time of year, some had even removed their coats and were walking around in shirtsleeves! The road through the High Street was closed at 2pm and this year was very kindly marshaled by cheerful volunteers from the 'Band of Brothers'.
Huge crowds of visitors flocked to the village from 2.30pm when the bells of St Andrews Church rang out to welcome everyone and declare the afternoon and evening events open.
The park and ride was happily supported by Drusillas Park, who very kindly supplied facilities for car parking, and Cuckmere Buses who supplied the buses to ferry visitors too and from the Village. Unlike any other year it seemed that many also walked from not only Alfriston, but also many of our neighbours from the surrounding villages to take part in the festivities.
Around 2,500 visitors enjoyed the day’s events which included, Hunters Moon Morris, festive story telling, Long Man Morris Dancers, Seaford Youth Drama Group, The Mummers and The choir from Alfriston Primary School.
At 4.45pm the procession that would take Santa to the village square for the tree lighting got underway. The Hailsham Bonfire Society led the procession with their torches lit glowing through the High Street bringing the street to life of days gone by. Santa followed behind them waving to the children as he passed, accompanied by some of the characters from the village's New Year's Pantomime 'May the Farce be with you'. As the beating of the bonfire society drum faded, the wonderful sound of the Eastbourne Scottish Pipe Band echoed as they completed the procession.
5pm arrived and Santa made his way to the balcony of the village Post Office to welcome a huge crowd, which stretched all the way down the High Street. Following a countdown he then went on to switch on the Village Christmas tree lights and declared that the Christmas spirit and festivities in Alfriston had well and truly begun.
The Salvation Army Band, seated by the tree then proceeded to hand out song sheets, and as families huddled together carols were sung, illuminated by the twinkling of lights, while the smell of mulled wine and roasted Chestnuts filled the air.
Children were invited to decorate freshly baked gingerbread people, listen to festive stories and hunt for owls at Chestnuts Tearoom, and had their face's painted by the staff from the Alfriston Pre-School while waiting to visit Santa at the very beautiful National Trust property; the Alfriston Clergy House. With huge smiles on their faces they then took to the carefully restored Victorian Carousel fairground ride, which visited this year for the first time.
Many of the other visitors enjoyed history tours of the village by Kevin Gordon, a local historian, browsing shops and galleries, taking part in the Alfriston Bake Off challenge and enjoying food and live music in the village pubs and restaurants. The evening events were once again brought to a close by regular, Dickensian performers and the ever-popular Expedient Jazz Band in Waterloo Square.
This year’s event seemed to really hit the spot with so many of the visitors, feedback to the events team has been wonderful and gratefully received. Earlier this week while chatting about the event the team were given a touching simple quote from a village resident who has seen many of the Dickensian events since they begun in 1983. David Philips former proprietor of the village shop simply said when asked for his opinion on the event
“It was wonderful, just like the old days”.
What more can be said than a huge THANK YOU to all the wonderful volunteers, and to all the visitors that made the 32nd Alfriston Dickensian Christmas event so successful. Also a very big thank you to those village businesses that have very kindly donated either their services, premises or some of their profits from that night to the Alfriston Events Team.
Without these donations, other fund raising events and advertising funds we receive, we would not be able to continue to hold these truly memorable events that bring many new and returning visitors to this beautiful village we all love.
Bring on the 33rd event next year. Keep an eye on our social media sites for confirmation of the 2015 date.