Guest Blog Post – Candlelit Dartmouth
Candlelit Dartmouth is an annual festive weekend for the whole family. It was originally an initiative conceived in 2006 by the Dartmouth Chamber of Trade to encourage visitors to the beautiful town of Dartmouth in a quieter time of the year. It has grown from strength to strength and is now firmly established as one of the town’s many popular events alongside the Music Festival, Regatta and the Food Festival. It is organised by a small committee aided by Diverse Events and a host of hard-working willing volunteers on the weekend itself.
Prior to the event there are a series of workshops that take place around the town and surrounding area to allow families to create fabulous lanterns that they proudly parade during the finale on Saturday. The event is not for profit and the committee decided to use some of the income from the traders to make sure that all families can be part of this lovely event. Consequently, these workshops are now free but donations are requested to cover some of the cost of the materials. It is lovely to see families working together to create some amazing and imaginative lanterns.
The event begins on Friday at 4pm with the Christmas Market centred in the town’s Royal Avenue Gardens. Musicians and entertainers add to the seasonal atmosphere both in the Gardens and around town.
A choir and musicians from the BRNC Volunteer Band lead carol singing around the Christmas tree prior to the official switch on of the town’s Christmas lights. Then at 6pm Santa arrives by boat and hundreds of excited children (and parents!) flock round the Boat Float waiting to catch a glimpse of Santa arriving with his sack of goodies. Festivities continue until 8pm with music and street entertainment.
On Saturday, the market, music and entertainment all resume at 10am. The fabulous Crafter’s Market runs from 10am till 4pm in the Old Market offering a large eclectic choice of beautiful handcrafted gifts. Santa takes his place in his Grotto in the Flavel Hall which also hosts seasonal workshops for both adults and children. For those who have not managed to attend one of the weekend workshops there is an opportunity to create a smaller lantern and to join in the parade.
Workshops can be booked in advance via the Flavel or pay on the day. The popular “best dressed Christmas dog” competition at the Bandstand encourages many to come and witness the hilarious costumes.
Many shops open late during the weekend to take advantage of the increase in visitors and this provides a lovely atmosphere in the town and an ideal opportunity to purchase special Christmas gifts.
The weekend finale begins at 5.30pm on Saturday when the traditional lantern procession leaves the Old Market. Hundreds of willow and tissue lanterns made by the families in the workshops create an amazing spectacle as they are paraded through the town’s historic streets.
Around 6.00pm the lantern procession arrives in Royal Avenue Gardens. For this final hour of Candlelit Dartmouth there is a real party atmosphere and you can be sure of some great live music for one last Candlelit boogie.
There is also a free Park and Ride minibus shuttle service from the top of town on Saturday from 10am to 8pm.
Visit the event website for the latest news and information: www.candlelitdartmouth.co.uk or on Facebook – Candlelit Dartmouth.