Christmas shopping with so much to see and do

The popularity of Sidmouth s late night opening for Christmas shopping has persuaded Fields to remain open for the first time this year and join other traders.

The popularity of Sidmouth's late night opening for Christmas shopping has persuaded Fields to remain open for the first time this year and join other traders. Managing director Trevor Roberts said: "We have supported it every year with Monday's Child and will now keep the main store open until 7.30pm."

This year's late night shopping is on Friday, December 5, when the majority of the town centre stores will open from 6pm to 8pm for Christmas shoppers.

Mr Roberts said Fields had supported late night opening in the '80s and '90s when tried previously and "waited to see" how popular the latest revival would be before committing the store staff to working longer hours.

He said: "It is costly to open, but a decision was taken in January to open this year."

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It is good news for the town and good for Helen Watts, who works in both Kaieteur and Flo & Us shops in Fore Street. She is this year's organiser of the late night shopping venture, backed by Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, of which she is an executive member. A trained therapist in Swedish massage and acupressure, which she offers at Flo & Us, run by Mark and Julie Kilsbie, Helen, with guidance from Sandra Cole, last year's organiser, has put together an exciting evening for shoppers as they enjoy mince pies and mulled wine in shops around the town.

Sidmouth Day Care Nursery for under four-year-olds will be singing Christmas carols from 5.30pm to 6.15pm in Market Place.

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Christmas cards, produced by Sidmouth College's Young Enterprise group, will be on sale, along with other products they have made this year.

Sidmouth Town Band will play in Market Place from 7pm to 7.45pm, somewhere near the Rotary Group's Christmas tree, while outside Sidmouth Methodist Church in High Street the Salvation Army Band will muster around 6pm, accompanying carol singers from the church during the two hours of late night opening.

More music will be on offer outside Flo & Us, performed by violinist Paul Roberts and his wife Tia. If you venture in will have Julie's own gluhwein on offer,

Father Christmas will again be handing out sweets to children in town during the evening and Educated Pig hog roast will have two hogs being roasted this year because one was not enough last year.

Helen said: "Now Fields is opening it will make a difference. The majority of shops should be open. Solicitors Mossop and Whitham are offering mince pies."

Brownies and scouts will be roasting chestnuts to sell and rangers and guides will be performing carols. So too will Sidmouth Folk Choir.

Other attractions will be the Toastrack, driven by Tom Griffiths, and, weather permitting, street art by Coco Hodgkinson. One major crowd puller has still to be confirmed - fire jugglers.

"I didn't know what I was letting myself in for," said Helen. "Sandra Cole has been very helpful. It seems to be growing each year and it is about having fun and bringing the town together."

Traders will have their own get-together after the shoppers have left, with a meal organised at The Anchor. Tickets are £10, available from Helen at Kaieteur or Flo and Us.

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