'Magical' lights and festive market offer new Christmas experience in Sidmouth
Philippa Davies and Maria McCarthy
- Credit: Kyle Baker Photography
An illuminated Christmas wonderland has opened at Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens, along with a festive food and craft market on the other side of the road.
Visitors voiced glowing approval for the ‘magical’ light effects at Connaught@Christmas, which opened to the public on Wednesday, December 8.
Nine different zones have been created in the gardens, offering different walkways and vistas, including a light projection over Jacob’s Ladder beach and the cliffs. There are seating areas, choirs performing carols and festive songs, and hot drinks and snacks available from the Clock Tower Café.
At the same time the free Food & Craft Village opened in the Manor Road Car Park, offering a new Christmas shopping experience for visitors, and giving local traders a market to sell their wares.
The official launch of the events on Tuesday, December 7 was called off because of Storm Barras, but the public opening the following evening was a great success.
Stephanie Bell, who used to live in Sidford, travelled from Cornwall with her family for the Connaught Gardens event. She said: “'The lights and music are magical, and the children really enjoyed meeting Father Christmas.”
Across the road the Christmas market is in a large marquee, where shoppers can browse a range of craft and gift stalls and enjoy street food and mulled wine.
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Charlotte Norton is running the Van Vino stall selling mulled wine and non-alcoholic Jingle Juice. She said: “After all the difficulties that traders and local people have faced in the past couple of years, it's lovely to see a festive event like this bringing people together again, and I'm really enjoying being part of it.”
Em Swallow from Sidmouth’s Something Lovely pottery painting business said: 'It's a lovely event with a festive atmosphere, it's lovely to see the children enjoying themselves.”
Jessica McDonald took part in a wreath making session run by Clare Diffey from the Devon Flower Co. She said: "It was such a fun and festive event to get in the Christmas spirit with friends. Clare is so talented and walked us through the process — I never knew I could make such a lovely wreath."
Among the other visitors on Wednesday evening were Nigel and Pauline Amos from Exmouth, and Kate McGovern and John Hughes from Sidmouth.
Kate said the Food and Craft village was 'very well organised, with an excellent range of stalls’. She added: “It's perfect for getting everyone in the mood for Christmas.”
Connaught@Christmas runs until Sunday, December 12 from 4.30 to 9.30pm, while the free-to-enter Christmas Craft & Food Village opens at 1pm each day. For more information visit connaught-at-christmas.co.uk