Scarborough will become a Grinch-free zone for six weeks from 14 November, as a cast of magicians, musicians, street performers, famous panto characters – and Father Christmas – assemble to help bring glitter, glee and glam to the town’s streets and stores as part of a new six-week festival, Counting Down to Christmas – with a mission to make Christmas shopping fun.
“Counting Down to Christmas will be Yorkshire’s largest Christmas variety show, guaranteed to put us in a feel-good festive spirit, as we enjoy Scarborough’s extravaganza of eclectic shops, indoor markets and attractions!” explains Sue Anderson-Brown, centre manager at Brunswick Shopping Centre and chair of the new town centre Christmas Steering Group. “Scarborough has been Yorkshire’s showbiz capital for centuries, so we’re drawing on that great tradition of entertainment to make sure that the entire town sparkles this Christmas season like no other. It’s also a celebration of Scarborough as a great place to shop, with its fantastic mix of high street retailers and independents, and friendly atmosphere – everything you’d want for Christmas from a premier coastal town.”
During the major new festival – the brainchild of local businesses with funding from Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID) – Father Christmas will arrive by sailboat, and Queen Victoria will time-travel to the Victorian Christmas Market. Meanwhile, on every Late Night Shopping Thursday and weekends in the countdown to Christmas, visitors to the town centre will be able to enjoy a magic lanternful of ever-changing festive fun from glitterfest drag queens to traditional Christmas carol-singing, from magic to music, from storytelling to street theatre – and including pantomime characters taking over the town.
Sue adds: “As Counting Down to Christmas is a partnership of local retailers and attractions, every week showcases something different. It’s all designed to take the stress out of Christmas shopping, transforming the town centre into a place where festive fun reigns. We want the Christmas Countdown to be just as magical as Christmas itself – a time when families can enjoy being together, having fun.”
The show opens at 4pm on Thursday 14 November at the Big Light Switch-On, with the help of celebrity star guests (soon to be announced) waving their magic wands to light up the town, which will be decorated with illuminated baubles casting rainbows of colour onto the streets below, and a giant 8 metre-high, golden Christmas Tree. The action continues with a spectacular laser-light show, while the town’s pantomime stars – including favourites from Treasure Island, Cinderella, and Jack & the Beanstalk – will be escaping onto the streets to sprinkle some Christmas magic.
Christmas in Scarborough
Other Counting Down to Christmas highlights – all taking place on Late Night Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – include:
- On 16 November, Santa arrives by boat – but will he be kidnapped on his way to Boyes store by the pirates from Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Treasure Island? Follow the street parade to find out…
- From 21 November, the inaugural ‘variety show’ weekend is strictly sparkling with dancers from the Julie Hatton Dance School, and a vintage blast from the past from Scarborough Music Band and a magnificent fairground organ from Scarborough Fair Collection (also playing on the 1, 8, 14 and 22 December).
- From 21 November until Christmas, the pirate crew from the Stephen Joseph Theatre will be marauding around the town encouraging all ages to take part in the Treasure Island-inspired treasure trail, with prizes drawn each Thursday evening at 7pm
- From 28 November, the cast – and enchanted carriage – from Scarborough Spa’s Cinderella have a ball in the town, while Yorkshire Coast legend Magic Mike, celebrating his 25th anniversary, and Chuck from Scarborough Spa will be bringing highlights from their Christmas show. Meanwhile, performers from The Christmas Cracker make a stir in the Brunswick Centre, and Glitterfest drag queens take over the library.
- From 5 December, pirates from Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Treasure Island invade the town centre, with magical and mischievous help from the cast of the YMCA’s Jack & the Beanstalk and the Naughty Christmas Tree.
- Between 10 – 15 December, the town steps into the world of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, as Queen Victoria makes a royal visit for her 250th birthday celebrations to the Victorian market in the town centre. She’ll definitely be amused by the traders in full period costume at their uniquely themed Victorian market stalls, with Victorian games, magic and street theatre throughout the weekend
- On 14 & 19 December, the cast from YMCA’s Jack & the Beanstalk help shoppers keep calm and smiling, as Counting Down to Christmas starts its final week…
During the festival, visitors will also be able to see a giant ‘Frozen’ ice sculpture, create Christmas cocktails, and listen to carols galore. Elsewhere in town, a very busy Santa can be seen in his Grotto at Boyes store, at Scarborough Sealife, and on the North Bay Railway.
Janet Deacon, Tourism & Corporate Marketing Manager for Scarborough Borough Council and Area Director for Welcome to Yorkshire says: “The Yorkshire Coast is an ideal destination for Christmas shopping – with top-name high-street stores alongside a huge range of unique artisan shops, there’s enough choice to make any Christmas wish come true. This is a fantastic initiative being led by the retailers and cultural attractions to make Christmas shopping a treat not a chore, so alongside the wealth of entertainment in town, the town’s hotels & B&Bs are also laying on Christmas pampering packages, while visitors can indulge in some relaxing time-out in the new Alpamare Wellness Spa – all hoping that we can tempt visitors to stay a little longer.”
To make shoppers even happier, there’s also free car parking on Late Night Thursdays and also on Sundays in December, in council’s town centre car parks, with the Brunswick Shopping Centre’s car park free on Thursdays, and East Yorkshire Motor Services Buses will be adding extra evening services across their local network during the Counting Down to Christmas festival, so people can make the most of late night shopping, car free!
For more information about Counting Down to Christmas, including a full line-up of events visit www.scarboroughchristmas.co.uk, or talk to the friendly, dedicated team at the Tourism Bureau on 01723 383636. To find out more about festive activity and places to stay along the Yorkshire Coast during November and December, visit www.discoveryorkshirecoast.com.