Our sneak peek film kindly created for us and donated by Ignite Films. Watch this space in the new year for the full length version.
Well Christmas certainly came to Rye this year! People came from far and wide in their thousands to enjoy a full day of festivities organised by a small committee of locals.
The Cinque Port town was full of laughter, fun and frivolities with families enjoying much needed quality time with a wealth of free activities in the town alongside the small fun fair rides, rodeo reindeer and of course the skating rink!

There was a small Christmas market on the Strand Quay providing a great back drop for Santa’s arrival on board the Harbour Masters boat, and the live reindeer provided by The Reindeer Centre in Bethersden drew a great crowd.

Local stars The Cheeky Girls proved popular as they took to the stage to perform for the crowds, amongst a host of other local choirs and dance schools keeping the crowd entertained throughout the day.

Present traditions were kept, like the grotto at Castle Museum, past ones were reinstated like the Christmas Pudding Race and future ones were set, in the form of a Mother Christmas feature and projected light units in some of the shops through the town.

The event concluded with a wonderful heart-warming carol concert at St Marys Church, with a programme of carols which were supported by various choirs and music groups including The Salvation Army and the Wall of Sound.

“The balance of cost was perfect for all families no matter what their income.  I was able to spend the whole day in Rye with my family and friends without the pressure of spending lots of money.  We enjoyed the free pottery session at Art from the Heart, free craft making at Craft Magic, the free pantomime at The Mermaid Inn and of course Santa’s Grotto! I felt able to give more generously to the donation buckets at each event knowing I was giving back to such a well organised event.   The market and food stalls were great and the whole event so well organised, we can’t wait for next year!” says one local resident. 

Despite there being very little focus on shopping for this event, the traders in the town have also enjoyed a profitable weekend.  The hotels and guest houses were booked out and the shops were full of people all day long.  Gift shop Forget-me-nots next to the beautiful St Mary’s Church were overwhelmed by having their best day’s trade ever! They saw a fabulous footfall with many people spending. Other traders, whilst perhaps not having the spend on the day can appreciate the follow up sales that are likely to come from people browsing with their families.

In the face of adversity with a zero budget from the outset and a lot of negative attitude from the community, the committee pulled off a corker of an event.  They met the simple objectives set at the beginning of the year; to create a free community Christmas event, to improve on previous years and bring back some of the magic from years gone by while hoping to also bring visitors to the town.   The feedback is overwhelmingly positive and the few negatives provide a great platform for improving next year.  The committee, made up of local people, struggled to get volunteers to help with the marshalling and actions on the day but those who did come forward were fantastic and worked so hard. It’s important that people are reminded that a small committee of ‘normal’ people made this happen, people who work full time, many with their own businesses, people who also have young families at home, people who have suffered the loss of family members, relationship difficulties, pregnancies, the buying and selling of houses, or working away from home at least 3 days of every week. There is no expectation of sympathy by sharing this, only a desire to inspire other ‘normal’ people in the community to get involved and help! The committee are keen to form an action group to support their work this year and if there are people out there who maybe just need a little confidence boost they want them to know that anyone can do this. If they managed this with a handful of people imagine what we could achieve with more!

If you think this could be for you or if you have any feedback on the event please email feedback@nullchristmasinrye.co.uk or contact Liz PenDennis on 01797 229916

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol