Welcome back everybody. We are almost at the end of another year and it’s hard to believe how quickly those 12 months have gone. Thank you so much for your comments, likes, clicks, tweets, re-tweets, honorable mentions on various social media. A fact that we have such dedicated and caring readership is really mind-blowing and truly humbling at the same time. Setting up Vanadian Avenue nearly 4 years ago, we have never thought that we would be this popular and still going strong. So thank you once again for everything – we will try hard to write more, present more varied topics and generally become even better in 2014.
Nowadays, it is almost expected for bloggers to summarize the past year in the last days of December. You can find hundreds of posts about best nights out, best shows people have been to, plays they have seen, best TV series they watched, best blogs they wrote – a whole 365 days limited to TOP10’s of this or that. We don’t like that trend and we try to establish our own end-of-the-year tradition. Instead of picking up the best of the bests, we concentrate on events that are worth writing about.
Usually, it takes us a week or two to publish a review of an event that we have attended. Sometimes, however, we are unable to do it for various reasons. In 2013 we had some serious excuses: illness, hospital stay due to thyroid operation, too much work during daytime, being tired. Believe us, running a blog is like having a part time job on the side. If you want to prepare good quality content for your readers, you need to research, write and promote it all by yourself – and for that you need time. The end of the year is a perfect time for us to prepare all those entries that we wanted to share with our readers and we never had the opportunity to finish. We will start summing up 2013 with two part review of Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre 2013
Last year, we have visited the Christmas Fayre for the first time and boy, it made a huge impression on us. It was our first Victorian market since moving to the UK and the costumes, carol singing in the streets, stalls, mulled wine and all around Christmas cheer were unforgettable. We promised ourselves to return again and that’s exactly what we did. Last year, the Victorian Fayre was organized by Worcester City Council and Worcester Chamber of Commerce. This year, the 21st Worcester market was prepared only by the Chamber of Commerce and we noticed some huge changes. Before we will tell you more, please take a look at our previous review:
The 21st Victorian Fayre lasted for four days. The grand opening took place on Thursday, 28th of November exactly at 15:00. It started with a huge parade of reenactors, magistrate workers, historical societies‘ members and exhibitors dressed in beautiful Victorian inspired costumes. The parade marched through the High Town, spent some time in the front of Guild Hall, sang few carols and ended with a mayor’s talk near the Cathedral. The next three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) were dedicated mostly to shopping and exhibiting, with only couple of additional attraction scattered across the city. The opening times were:
Friday, 29th of November: 11:00am – 21:00 pm
Saturday, 30th of November: 10:00am – 20:00pm
Sunday, 1st of December: 11:00am – 17:00pm
Helen King the events manager within the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce can be contacted if you need any more information about the Fayre. For stall and coach bookings, and all other enquiries relating to the event please contact Helen at:
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 0845 641 1641
Official websites: http://www.hwchamber.co.uk/worcestervictorianchristmasfayre and http://www.visitworcestershire.org/about-worcestershire/Worcester-Christmas-Fayre.aspx
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/worcxmas
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorcesterFayre
We have visited the Fayre during the weekend (both Saturday and Sunday) and unfortunately, we are sad to report that the magic we felt last year is gone. The results might be much more impressive than 12 months ago (over 150 stalls and nearly 120.000 visitors) but something was missing. The first thing we noticed was a bit of a chaos around the market – exhibitors were looking for their designated places, some of them were very angry and upset to find other stalls already set up in completely wrong spaces. Rita witnessed that several fully prepared stalls had to be dissembled, moved from one end of the street to the other and re-assembled again. Those who live in Worcester know how narrow the High Street is and people carrying huge wooden structures on their arms above the heads of passer-byes is simply an accident waiting to happen. We have to admit that the voluntary workers and festival stewards were very effective and could quickly resolve any dispute. The problem is, there was not enough manpower for a market of this size. On Sunday morning, a big delivery van has been parked illegally in the middle of the High Street and the craftsmen were unable to open their stalls. Nobody knew how to contact the stewards and where to find them. The stalls owners made polite calls and announcements through megaphone every 2 minutes trying to locate the owner of the vehicle, but they irritated the living daylights out of the visitors and other sellers. Police had to be called and even they had troubles contacting the organizers. Another thing we noticed was on Saturday. One of the biggest food places on the market (we will kindly not mention their name, but their stall was located at the end of the High Street, close to the roundabout and next to the entrance to Pizza Express Restaurant) had an entire roasted pig on a grill. The deep frying container full of hot oil was left unsecured in the middle of the pathway and everyone had full access to it. The delicious smell made kids and animals approach the stand and the young lady who was left in charge didn’t see anything inappropriate in her company’s set up. Again, it took a police officer to explain her the hazard of leaving the grill not properly secured.
As we were wandering around the market, we also had a chance to speak to the stall owners themselves as well as the public. The owners complained about the problems with electricity that went out twice, leaving stalls and food points near the carousels without any light (Saturday and Sunday evenings). Public was not pleased with high prices and lack of information from the Chamber. The new organizers need to work really hard next year to improve the communication between the exhibitors and the public, they also need to hire and train more volunteers and stewards. Health and safety is not just a slogan!
Now, we are done with complaining. As usual, visiting the market is an amazing experience. You can find almost everything on the stalls: clothes, handmade chocolates, beers and ales from every corner of the UK, Christmas decorations, wreaths, toys, jewellery, candles and of course the food. From the roasted pigs to exclusive puddings with edible real gold flakes, Lebanon dishes, French crepes and German smoked sausages. If you don’t have idea what to buy your loved ones as a present, the market is a place to go. When the darkness falls, stalls are lit with candles and multicolored lights, black and white buildings glimmer and sparkle, the whole town turns into the Diagon Alley from Harry Potter series 🙂 Thousands of people move from one booth to another, laugh and exchange comments – believe us, being a part of such crowd is not only a pleasure but a real Christmas privilege! Victorian markets offer more than just shopping for gifts or eating. This year the organizers invited several different groups of entertainers that created a truly unique atmosphere. We mentioned historical societies, Victorian-era enthusiasts dressed in wonderfully detailed dresses and full suits with hats and canes. Unquestionably, our favorite group was The Worcester Steam Punk association that arrived at the opening parade in a strange machine that could only be described as a cross between a carriage, sedan chair, bike and a rickshaw. We had a chance to speak to the lady operating the machine, but we didn’t catch her name. If anybody recognizes her, please let us know! We would like to give her a proper credit.
The machine was escorted on both sides by a group of cyclists that shouted hellos and greetings in three languages: English, German and French, probably to welcome foreign guests that arrived at the market. Worcester is twinned with German city of Kleve, the Parisian commune of Le Vesinet and its larger American namesake Worcester, Massachusetts. While the German and English sentences were correct, the French ones were completely misplaced. A lady screaming “Bon jour” at night gave the French delegation a lots of reasons to laugh, especially if she remained deaf to the public correcting her with “Bon soir”.
Other groups worth mentioning were the The Salvation Army Brass Band that performed with Worcester Cathedral Voluntary Choir, Victorian Carol singers (a wandering group of artists that sang traditional Christmas carols among the stalls) and Worcester Ukelele Club that played beloved British tunes in exotic arrangement. For a second, we felt like being on a Hawaiian beach, but instead of a cold drink, we had a cup of hot chocolate in our hands!
Talking about Victorian themed entertainment, we have to mention a real Victorian galloper! A galloper is British merry-go-round with horses in galloping positions, instead of more common “standing” ones. The horses move up and down while the carousel goes round, giving the people a sensation of riding a real animal. We didn’t have a chance to ride it (the line was ridiculously long for us to wait), but we have taken a lovely picture:
More information about the market and other attractions can be find in the official Worcester Fayre brochures:
Please return in the new year for more news and reviews. Part two will be dedicated to our favorite sellers and their stands.
For now have a balloon and don’t forget to enjoy the New Years party!
See you soon folks!
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz