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Top Christmas events in Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 12:44 27 November 2017

Independents' Christmas Shopping Day, Hitchin (photo: JAF Milligan)

Independents' Christmas Shopping Day, Hitchin (photo: JAF Milligan)

Archant

We’ve selected some of the best Christmas events in Hertfordshire to celebrate the festive season

1. Great Gaddesden’s inaugural Christmas tree festival will see St John the Baptist church transformed into a wintry wonderland from Friday, December 1 until Sunday, December 3.

On the Saturday there will also be a Christmas fayre from 10am-4pm, with gifts, delicious treats and locally-made crafts, and refreshments of mulled wine and mince pies. The weekend will culminate with an advent service at 3pm on the Sunday.

Over in Datchworth is a Christmas tree festival at All Saints Church, with mulled wine and music from 5-8pm on Friday, December 1, and stalls, competitions and refreshments from 2-5.30pm the following day.

2. Late night shopping with a difference is on offer at Burwash Manor in Barton, which hosts 16 independent retailers, tea rooms and a day spa.

On Friday, December 1 from 5-9pm, indulge in mince pies, mulled wine, delicious street food and a food market with gin tasting while you browse the shops for gifts. There will also be a traditional choir and Santa’s grotto (call The Rocking Horse Toy Shop on 01223 264674 to book a chat with Santa).

3. You’ve heard of tree festivals in churches, well this is a crib festival – and charming it is. St Ippolyts church Nativity Crib Festival is now in its 10th year. Last year it filled the church with more than 150 nativity scenes. The variety is astounding – new and old, made from everything from newspaper to glass – and each one has a unique story behind it.

Entry to the event, which takes place from 11am-5pm over the weekend of December 2-3, is £2.50 and free for children. Tea and cakes will be available and you will even have the chance to win your own crib.

4. Watford Palace Theatre Community Choir Christmas Concert with songs from the musical Oliver will have you saying ‘Please sir, I want some more’. The programme for the performance at 7.30pm on Wednesday, December 6, also contains additional pieces, including one from an opera written by Dickens.

Admission is by a suggested donation of £5. Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office on 01923 225671.

5. For a shopping experience with a twist, the Roving Canal Traders Association is hosting its first Christmas floating market in Berkhamsted. Pop along and buy unusual gifts for your family and friends while bobbing on boats – lovely.

The market runs from 10am-5pm over the weekend of December 9-10 on the stretch of the Grand Union Canal next to Waitrose.

6. All aboard the Santa Express in Hitchin on Saturday, December 9 when children can enjoy a road train and a visit to Santa’s grotto between 12.30-2.30pm. A reindeer procession will bring Father Christmas to Market Place at 12.30pm and Hermitage Road will have late night shopping until 8pm.

The following day, Market Place hosts Independents’ Christmas Shopping Day from 10am when you can tick off your presents list. The land train will be back, plus there will be street entertainers and a lantern procession at 4pm followed by carols. If you’re not grinning like a happy elf after all that, Santa is calling off Christmas.

7. Fancy spending Christmas with top English thesp Jeremy Irons? Well on Tuesday, December 12, you can, at St Peter’s Church in Berkhamsted.

The actor will be reading a selection of poetry and prose exploring winter, Christmas and the joy of bringing a child into the world, while Hertfordshire Chorus will sing traditional and contemporary festive songs.

Tickets to the Words and Music at Christmas event, from 8pm, are £10-£20. Visit chilternarts.com/event/christmas-with-jeremy-irons

8. This is one for the bank of family memories – a one-hour Santa Cruise (Santa Cruz – clever eh?) from Lee Valley Boat Centre in Broxbourne. The trip on the Lady of the Lee includes mulled wine and mince pie for the adults and a gift from Father Christmas for the children.

The cruises run at 10am, 11.45am, 1.30pm and 3.15pm on December 16 and 17. Tickets are £10.

9. There are few better settings to belt out carols than St Albans Cathedral, and on Sunday, December 17 is an extra-special concert in the awe-inspiring venue (left). The hour-long concert in aid of Berkhamsted-based Hospice of St Francis will showcase performances from Harpenden Choral Society, led by conductor John Andrews, and Sir John Lawes School Choir, as well as Christmas readings.

Tickets for the event from 3pm are £9, available from stalbanscathedral.org or the box office on 01727 890290.

10. Synonymous with Christmas and one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous compositions, The Nutcracker will be brought to life by Ballet Theatre UK at Watford Colosseum from December 22-24. The well-loved ballet will be performed in a unique setting with 24 international dancers, from companies around the world.

To book tickets, visit watfordcolosseum.co.uk or call the box office on 01923 571 102.

11. The cold, crisp days of winter are a magical time to go walking in the county, with sparkling scenery and spectacular early sunsets. The Ramblers’ annual Festival of Winter Walks, from December 23 to January 7, has a selection of free walks, ranging from short strolls topped off with a sociable drink to more strenuous stretches to boost energy levels (and work off those extra helpings of Christmas pud). There’s a walk to suit everyone at ramblers.org.uk/winter

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