Shopping, Snow White and Santa

PUBLISHED: 00:16 30 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:24 20 February 2013

Willows Farm ice rink

Willows Farm ice rink

One of the biggest villages in the country has much to create festive cheer this Christmas as Richard Young found out when he got on his sleigh to London Colney...

WITH a population of around 10,000 people, London Colney, to the south-east of St Albans, can claim to be the second biggest village in England and has a striking combination of the traditional and the modern.

Still retaining an old-world charm from its days as a stop over for horse drawn coaches on the way to and from London, it is also a major shopping destination for the area with its shopping park with flagship stores. So the village makes an interesting place to do some bustling Christmas shopping before popping into one of the old pubs in and around the High Street for a well-earned pint and a sample of a more Dickensian Christmas.

There is also a strong community spirit among the villagers who put on a range of events at this time of year to which everyone is welcome.

Chairman of the London Colney Parish Council, Ian Orton, said the community comes out for Christmas. We have a fantastic time planned and this year were really trying to get the wider community involved. Were all working extra specially hard with our dedicated team of seasoned volunteers as well as much of the younger generation this way we think were going to make it bigger, brighter and more of an experience for all involved.

Hit the shops

The place to head to for gifts, decorations, and to lay the Christmas table is Colney Fields Shopping Park. Situated on the southern edge of the village, it has two anchor stores, the huge 24-hour Sainsburys superstore and the almost equally massive Marks & Spencers next door. It also has a large Next, Monsoon, Borders, Sports World, Boots and New Look.

Go get the turkey, mince pies and a bottle of ginger wine on the evening of December 19 and 20 and there will be a village community choir belting out carols in aid of local charities. You can sing a Hosanna or two yourself if you fancy it

contact the parish council office on 01727 821413 for more information about rehearsals.

On the farm with Santa

For a grotto with a difference, take the little ones to Willows Farm Village. A former working farm converted to an educational and rare breed centre, it has Father Christmas visiting from November 23 to Christmas Eve when of course he has other business to attend to. Children receive a golden key from the old fellow to enter his toyshop, where they can pick their own present.

You can also meet Dancer, Prancer and Rudolph for reindeer rides, get on your skates on the magical (well, synthetic) ice rink, visit the elves house, go on a festive wood ride and enjoy a nativity show, fun fair and play barn.

The farm is open daily from 10am to 5.30pm, closing at 4pm on December 24 and 31, and will be closed between December 25 to 27 and January 1.

For admission prices call 0870 129 9718.

Oh yes it is!

Christmas would not be the same without panto, and London Colney doesnt disappoint. This year its the rags to riches tale of Cinderella with the Chaplins Pantomime Company.

The show takes place on Sunday January 16 at the Caledonian Community Centre. Tickets priced 5 each or 15 for a family ticket for four are available from the parish council office in the community centre or from Barkers Estate Agents on the High Street.

Lights, camaraderie, action!

The big Christmas lights switch on takes place at 5.30pm on Friday November 25 on Chester Gibbons Green by the Millennium Clock when the village Christmas tree and the festoons of lights along the High Street will burst into life.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves from the St Albans pantomime will join the cast of the village panto, Cinderella, to count down to the illuminations before hitting the switch.

Traditional carolling, led by children from three local junior schools, will follow.

After getting into the spirit of Christmas albeit a month before the actual festival why not get into it even more at one of the villages old coaching inns. The Colney Fox, The Bull, The Green Dragon, The Golden Lion and The White Horse will all welcome you with a pint of something warming.

Church services

London Colneys parish church, the newly restored and very elegant 19th-century St Peters, is hosting a carol service on December 18 at 5pm along with a lights of love celebration of the lives of loved ones.

On Christmas Eve there is what the Rev Lynne Fawns described as the huge Christingle service at 4pm, and from 11.30pm there is midnight mass.

The Christmas Day service is at 10am.

Christmas Balls

The parish councils major fundraising event of the year is held on December 16 at the Caledon Community Centre, geographically and socially at the heart of the village.

There will be a five-course Christmas dinner vegetarians catered for and music and dancing until midnight, with a grand draw to raise additional funds for local charities.

Tickets are priced at 30 available from the parish council office.

Call 01727 821413, or email

Latest from the Hertfordshire Life