Traditional event will kickstart Christmas in Berwick

A DICKENSIAN Market will bring some festive cheer to Berwick on Sunday, December 11 - but it could be the last because of a looming financial crisis.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 9th December 2011, 12:00 pm

Visitors are expected from far and wide to soak up the atmosphere of the market, to sample the mulled wine and hog roast, and stock up on Christmas gifts.

The historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is the perfect setting for a Dickensian Christmas Market. The town, steeped in history, was once visited by Charles Dickens himself, having stayed the night in The Kings Arms Hotel on Hide Hill after he gave a recital in the Assembly Rooms.

More than 40 stallholders are expected to line Marygate, many of whom will be dressed up in traditional Dickensian costume to recreate an image from a bygone era.

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They will be selling a wide range of gifts, ideal for those ‘hard to buy for’ relatives, with food stalls and farmers’ market stalls overflowing with delicious provisions to make sure your Christmas is an extra special one.

Other stalls will include arts and crafts, sweets of every description, a variety of home baking, jewellery, and a grand selection of local produce.

Several newcomers will also be attending this year’s event which will help to freshen up proceedings. A special attraction this year will be horse-drawn carriage rides courtesy of the Cornhill Carriage Company which will take passengers across the Royal Tweed Bridge to Tweedmouth and back into Berwick.

On the high street, which will be closed to traffic for the day, there will be street entertainment and children’s rides provided by Slaters, along with free music and entertainment up and down the street and on stage.

Refreshments are provided by The Old Vicarage Guest House in Tweedmouth who will be serving Victorian afternoon teas in the Town Hall where Santa Claus will also be greeting visitors to his grotto. Here there will also be an opportunity for people to dress in Victorian costume with various props and have their pictures taken.

Viv Robson of the organising Berwick Events Group, said: “We have lots of excellent stalls lined up, including a few new ones, and a range of entertainment so we hope lots of people will come along to support what promises to be a fantastic day.”

From 3pm there will be carols sung by the Berwick Middle School choir on the Town Hall steps. They will be joined by the cast of Sleeping Beauty, this year’s pantomime at The Maltings. Vicar of Berwick, Canon Alan Hughes and Mayor Alan Bowlas will say a few words followed by the switch on of the lights on the Christmas tree.

Make sure to make a date in your diary for what promises to be a fantastic, festive day out for all the family at the Berwick Dickensian Christmas Market.

However, Berwick Events Group has warned that this might be the last staging of the market unless new income streams can be secured.

Viv said: “There’s a strong possibility this will be the last market unless we can find new ways of fundraising or sponsorship.

“The event costs around £10,000 to put on but we’ve lost some the backers who have helped us in previous years so there’s a significant shortfall. We need to know early in the new year if funds are going to be in place because we need to make a decision one way or the other by June.

“On top of that we’re desperately in need of more volunteers. There’s only so much the small band of people involved at the moment can do.

“We would be absolutely devastated if it folds so we’re hoping a successful staging of the market on Sunday will encourage a few more people to help out.”