Maldon's Victorian celebrations
PUBLISHED: 14:20 20 August 2010 | UPDATED: 16:26 20 February 2013
Celebrating the festive season has become an art form in Maldon. Nicky Adams discovers why this Essex town is the place to be
CHRISTMAS celebrations in Maldon are always a bit special, but Rob Hawkins, chair of a new committee to mastermind the towns celebrated Victorian evenings, is promising even greater things this festive season.
Were a new bunch of people with fresh ideas and we want to make this Christmas really spectacular, says Rob. Christmas in Maldon is going to be even more traditional than ever.
Rob and his team are certainly setting their sights high. The Victorian evenings have become a fixture on the local calendar and no fewer than 10,000 visitors are expected to pour into Maldon on December 3 and 10. Rob has even arranged for coaches to bring people from as far afield as London and two double-decker buses will ferry visitors to the town centre from car parks at Tesco and Morrisons.
Its important to get as many people involved as possible, says Rob. The Victorian evenings have become a real tradition and they create a great sense of community feeling. Theyre also a good way to bring first-time visitors to Maldon. We reckon that more than half of the people who havent been to Maldon before will want to come back again to see the town from a different angle. When people see the specialist shops, the Promenade Park and the local breweries, they realise that Maldon has a lot to commend it.
Certainly the best of the town will be on display on the celebrated Victorian evenings. Maldons traders will be plying their wares, all dressed in Victorian costume. The only exception will be on the sushi stand, where the dress code is strictly traditional Japanese.
Well have stalls with jewellery, sweets, fudge, pies, holly wreaths, pottery, candy floss, you name it, says Jan Hawkins, who is responsible for organising more than 100 traders, whose stalls will be set up in and around the High Street. There will be craft stalls in the town hall for the first time this year and more than 70 charities have been invited. Well have roundabouts and a traditional Punch and Judy show too, so there is plenty of entertainment.
The amusements will continue throughout Maldons town centre, where minstrel jugglers and magicians, as well as Morris dancers and the Salvation Army band, will enthral the crowds. All Saints Church will be hosting choral performances, while there will be ghost tales in the crypt and seasonal events at St Marys too. A hog roast and, for the first time ever, beer from the local Mighty Oak Brewery will be on sale to fuel the celebrations.
The Victorian evenings have become a real tradition and they create a great sense of community feeling
Of course, the Victorian evenings would not be complete without a visit from the queen herself. Queen Victoria is sure to be amused when she processes through the town on both evenings to be received by the Mayor of Maldon at the Moot Hall before moving on to the Swan Hotel. Santa Claus will also make a special guest appearance in his grotto at the Emporium department store.
But the Victorian evenings are not Maldons only celebration of Christmas. The grand Christmas lights switch-on will take place on November 28, with the Carnival Winter Parade starting from All Saints Church at 3.30pm. There will be a short carol service and then the mayor will do the Christmas honours by switching on the towns illuminations at 4pm.
Christmas shopping in Maldon gets off to a flying start a little earlier than that though. On 21 November, Hayletts Gallery in the High Street launches its Christmas Mixed Exhibition, with etchings by Elizabeth Morris and pictures, ceramics, glass, sculpture and gift ideas from a broad selection of artists on sale right up until Christmas. The gift shop at Maeldune Heritage Centre on Market Hill, will also offer present inspiration with its range of jewellery, soaps, candles and hand-crafted gifts and cards to accompany its art exhibition, Highlights of 2009, which brings together work from the years exhibitions.
There are also plenty of opportunities to get into the Christmas spirit in Maldon. Celebrated folk band Agnes Fountain will be at Maldon Town Hall for a concert of acoustic carols for Christmas on December 9. Children aged seven to 12 are invited to join in the Junior Rangers Club Winter Ramble on December 12, from Elms Farm Park to Promenade Park, followed by Christmas card making, games and mince pies, and on December 13 all are welcome to don a white beard and take part in the annual Farleigh Hospice Santa Run at Promenade Park.
Even after Christmas the fun continues with Maldons most famous event, the Maldon Mud Race, on December 27 from 1pm. This wacky rush across the low-tide river at Promenade Park sees competitors regaled in fancy dress as they dash across the Maldon mud. They really do know how to celebrate in Maldon.
Maldons Christmas diary
22 October to 17 December
Cards for Good Causes, Maldon Library. Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm, and Wednesdays, 9.30am to 12.30pm. A wide range of cards, tags wrapping paper, advent calendars and bookmarks in aid of charities. 01621 853556
21 November to 24 December
Christmas Mixed Exhibition, Hayletts Gallery, High Street, Maldon. Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm.
21 November to 23 January
Art Exhibition: Highlights of 2009, Maeldune Heritage Centre, Market Hill. Thursdays and Fridays, 1pm to 4pm, and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm. 01621 851628
Maldon Christmas Lights Switch On, All Saints Church from 3.30pm. A short carol service followed by lights switch on at 4pm. 01621 857373
3 and 10 December
Victorian shopping evenings. The High Street is closed to traffic and lined with stalls. Look out for seasonal music, shopkeepers in Victorian dress and a visit from Queen Victoria.
Agnes Fountain Concert, Maldon Town Hall. Acoustic carols for Christmas. Tickets 14.
Junior Rangers Club Winter Ramble, Elms Farm Park to Promenade Park, Maldon, 10am to noon.
Farleigh Hospice Santa Run. Promenade Park.
World War II Christmas, Combined Military Services Museum, 2.30pm. 4.75 adults, 3 children, 3.75 concessions, 15.50 family (two adults plus three children).
Maldon Mud Race, Promenade Park, 1pm. Application forms available from the TIC.
New Years Eve Ceilidh, West Maldon Community Centre, Sunbury Way. 8.30pm to 12.30am. Tickets 10 from the TIC.
22, 23, 29, 30 January
Maldon pantomime, Puss in Boots. Fridays, 7.30pm, Saturdays, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets from TIC. 01621 856503