So far, we have written mostly about Hereford and Malta on our blog. It is because Malicia resides on the lovely island in the Mediterranean and Rita is freezing her rear in West Midlands. Sometimes however, we are travelling to other locations to see how things are being done elsewhere. On 1st of December 2012, Rita went to Worcester to witness the famed Victorian Christmas Fayre. It was the first time ever she went to Victorian market and she found it to be a memorable experience. No offence meant, but the market in Worcester was bigger than anything Rita has seen yet in Hereford. The crowd of 34.000 people during the Flavour of Herefordshire festival looked really modest in comparison to 120.000 visitors at the annual Christmas extravaganza. We had only two words to describe the mad mob running up and down the main shopping streets of Worcester City Centre and they were “HOLY HELL!”
2012 edition of the Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre was in fact its 20th. The celebration started on Thursday 29th November and ended with a big party on Sunday 2nd December 2012.
Opening times were: Thursday 29th of November 16:00 PM – 21:00 PM (openning day),
Friday 30th of November 11:00 AM – 21:00 PM, Saturday 1st of December 10:00 AM – 20:00 PM and
Sunday 2nd of December 11:00 AM – 17:00 PM
If you’d like to know more about the festival, please click on the floowing links:
Official Visit Worcester website – http://www.visitworcester.com
Official Facebook page – www.facebook.com/worcesterfayre
PDF version of the Christmas flayer – http://www.modushosting.co.uk/chr12tmas/flip-book-2/
PDF version of The Worcester Christmas Magazine – http://www.modushosting.co.uk/chr12tmas/flip-book/#/16/
PFD version of the Business Directory for Worcester – http://www.modushosting.co.uk/chr12tmas/bid-businesses/
Official Victorian Christmas Fayre programme – http://www.visitworcester.com/img/2012_Fayre_Programme.pdf
Victorian Christmas Fayre is being described as one of the biggest Victorian Christmas markets in the UK. For those of our readers who like math and statistics, here are some numbers that could help you to imagine how enormous this event was. In 2012, there were 150 independent stalls owned by local artists, craft makers, various family businesses, butchers, breweries, bakers and cooks. Additional 50 stands were housed within the historic buildings of Worcester Guildhall. The great Assembly Room (previously a ballroom!) has been turned into open cafeteria for more than 150 guests and visitors. The entertainment has been provided by 90 performances from local schools, choirs, dance troupes, community groups and professional Victorian themed stilt walkers. If we add volunteers, council workers, bus companies (who coordinated transportation of visitors), charities, emergency workers and locals dressed in self-made costumes, we can estimate than nearly 1000 people were directly involved in organization. Very impressive number, don’t you think?
As usual, we have chosen several stands, that we thought are worth writing about. It would be great to mention all the artists and makers but you’d be bored to death reading about all of them! We have selected the most important ones, in our humble opinion of course. Please take a look at the best of the best from Worcester Christmas Fayre.
Silver Del Sol – contemporary sterling silver
Address: 31 Wayne Avenue, Cranford, Middlesex (please contact Clare Fowler on 07900 878118)
Silver Del Sol (Silver Sun) is a young and dynamic fair trade company introducing East Asian creators to Western customers. They produce sterling silver jewellery mixed with shells, semi-precious stones and fossils. Each piece is handmade and polished in a special way to enhance the natural beauty of the used materials. Clare Fowler, the lady seen on the picture below, was very kind and explained in detail how the jewellery pieces are made in Bali and then shipped to UK and the rest of Europe. Silver Del Sol not only sell through their website but also delivers their products to jewellery stores and hi street traders. You have probably seen Silver Del Sol’s items in many stores and didn’t realize that you can buy them straight from the makers. As they say, cut out the middle man and support the artists!
Le Vésinet – A French connection
Address: 16 km from the centre of Paris!
It was very surprising to hear a French accent and chants “les crêpes!” (“pancakes!”) in the middle of Victorian market. When we went to investigate, we found a large stall with French delegation from a town of Le Vésinet. Worcester and Le Vésinet have been twinned in 1994 and grew very close since then. Twice a year, a delegation from Worcester travels to Le Vésinet to participate in art and holiday market. In return, the French are invited to summer celebrations and Victorian market. Le Vésinet is known as ville-parc (a suburban park) and has many gardens, public parks and mansions worth visiting. It is located only 16 km from the city centre of Paris and is a must see for every tourist coming to the French capitol. We have not only tried their wonderful pancakes but also bought an original French cream from roasted eatable chestnuts.
Odd Bod Bears – friends made from tea and bathing towels
Address: Cheltenham, please ask for Mrs Viner at 01242 242117
It is a big, big shame, that we couldn’t find more information about Odd Bod Bears company on the internet. It is a single person business and the owner doesn’t have an official website. What’s more important, Mrs Viner has extraordinary skills. She can make any toy just from a piece of fabric, several pieces of strings and few buttons. Her stall was placed inside the Guild’s Hall building on the ground floor and attracted quite a crowd. The pictures we took don’t do her creation any justice! All toys have been made from tea towels and bathing towels. They have been cleverly folded and stitched together to resemble wild animals: bears, crocodiles, frogs, tigers, elephants, owls and many more (no cats unfortunately!). Each animal cost only 10 pounds and none were the same.
Thai Interiors – East meets West
Address: Please contact Emma or Sanan at 07747607079
If you are a follower of Kat-a-log project on our blog, you are probably familiar with the name Thai Interiors. We have written about them in December when one of their sculptures joined Olympia’s collection. Thai Interiors is a fair trade company run by British volunteers who help the Thai artists earn an extra income for their arts and crafts. Emma, the director of the organization, travels to Thailand several times a year and brings the hand-made sculptures with her to the UK. They are then sold on local markets all over the country and all money collected are given back to the artists. Sculptures presented in the Guild’s Hall in Worcester were made entirely from the horns of water buffalos. Each piece has been polished and carved multiple times to receive their characteristic deep amber-coloured shading.
Please see the cat that we have bought during the market: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-7/
Emma was a very kind person and she even borrowed her Victorian mob cap to Rita. Isn’t she pretty?
Coningsby – original paintings, prints and commissions
Website: www.sandstonebones.co.uk – in preparation
Address: please contact Sophia at 07971215734
The main lady behind Coningsby art project is a rare talent. Sophia’s skills with watercolours, ink, acrylics and mixed media are so breath-taking that they made complete strangers stop rushing about and look at her artworks with amazement. We also fell under the spell, but we had to admit, we have nothing against being bewitched with art! Sophia is incredibly funny person and held very interesting conversations with her guests. She could discuss recent politics, Victorian fashion, Worcester history and her paintings at once with such ease that we spent nearly half an hour at her stand without even realizing it. Coningsby official website is in preparation so please come back soon.
Founded in July 2012, Bluebird Tea Co. is a fantastic example that sometimes you don’t have to look for a job, but you can create one for yourself. Kristina Smith and Mike Turner met at the university and quickly discovered that 9-to-5-corporate-job is not for them. An idea for their own business was born during their trip to Canada and after returning to the UK, BlueBird Tea Co has been born. They describe themselves as ”fairly young, happiness-spreading, tea-making, independent, caring, exciting and unique little company on a mission to make people happy with tea”. We have met Mark at their stand at Christmas Fayre where he convinced us to try “Nearly Nirvana” – one of their special green-white tea mixes. The tea has been delivered to Poland in January and Olympia described it as “kick ass”. Now, this is for you our British readers. Don’t panic, order from Bluebird and keep drinking tea. The Queen would like you to!
Aunt Annie’s Traditional Confectionary
A very well known, local sweets producer, Aunt Annie’s Traditional Confectionary, has been in business since 1966. The company is always present at the Christmas Fayres and some people say the festive season would be called off without them. Their stand was one of the biggest but their selection of sweets and fudges is simply huge. The fudges where given funny names like “Death by chocolate”, “Red bull Fudge”, “Marzipan madness” and “Pizza pie”. We couldn’t buy anything as the queue was longer than all episodes of “All my children” and” Coronation street” combined together. Instead, we took several pictures for your enjoyment.
Address: North Pole (of course) and Worcester (during the fayre)
One of the Christmas Fayre’s actors was dressed in Santa Claus’ outfit. You should have seen the kids’ faces when they saw him! The gentleman had the loudest “ho, ho, ho” we heard this year and he worked really hard. Santa agreed to pose for a picture after Rita promised to be a very good girl next year.
The High Town orchestra
Location: in the front of Guild Hall building, High Street
A small orchestra played an hour long concert for the visitors in the front of Guild Hall offices. They played the most popular songs from the Victorian Era but also added several public favourites: “With a little help from my friends” The Beatles, “Walking in the air”, ”Wonderwall” Oasis, ”We will rock you” Queen and several others. The crowd cheered and danced and we had a lot of fun singing out loud. There is nothing better than a group karaoke!
All right kids! Hope you have enjoyed this long, but detailed review of the Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre. We will definitely be back next year, maybe during the day to see the difference between the night market and daily celebration. Please return soon as we are having a rare treat to fantasy and book lovers. The coming up entries will be dedicated to Jasper Fforde and Helen Stringer!
See you next week,
Rita and Mal D.