Rye Christmas Festival: What you can expect from 2019 event

Mother Christmas at the first festival in 2015. Photo by Debbie Sanderson
Mother Christmas at the first festival in 2015. Photo by Debbie Sanderson

When it comes to the festive season, every town has their own traditions that bring the community together. For Rye, it is their legendary Rye Christmas Festival.

Coming to life after a group of locals came together with a plan to revive the Christmas spirit and festivities in the town, Rye Christmas Festival has become a staple in both locals’ and visitors’ Christmas celebrations.

Rye Christmas Festival. Photo by Paul Whiteman. SUS-191111-101938001

Rye Christmas Festival. Photo by Paul Whiteman. SUS-191111-101938001

Over the years, the festival has grown in not only activities and festive fun, but also in visitor size, with many coming from far and wide to enjoy the magical day.

This year, the festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary and the dedicated committee have been working year round to bring something exciting to the 2019 event.

Celebrating Rye and it’s natural picturesque features, the theme this year takes us back to the first festival – Dickensian: A Festival of Christmas Past!

So what can you expect when the festival returns on December 7? Prior to the big day, the committee will be working alongside volunteers for the annual Christmas lights installation around town, helping bring some of the festive cheer to Rye.

Rye Christmas Festival. Photo by Hayley Fordham. SUS-191111-101926001

Rye Christmas Festival. Photo by Hayley Fordham. SUS-191111-101926001

On the day itself, you won’t be able to walk through Rye without feeling the Christmas buzz with the town really getting into spirit of things once again. Businesses all around Rye are putting on special festive events to complement the day and of course, the festival has its beloved traditions returning with some new and exciting elements.

You can take the perfect Christmas photo in the 10ft snow globe, with disabled access so everyone can enjoy the fun. There will be multiple entertainers around the town including street performers and musicians, as well as tasty snacks to really treat your taste buds.

Father Christmas and his grotto are returning for another year, with gifts, photo opportunities and the chance to bring an exciting experience to the little ones. For entertainment, you can enjoy an unforgettable pantomime performance of Aladdin at Rye Community Centre.

There are two new additions to the event this year – the first being a horse and cart ride, allowing visitors to purchase tickets for a unique ride around the town, taking in all of the Christmas activities. The second new addition is the brand new Elf Academy, an interactive experience for all children over the age of three.

To tie it all together, the Christmas procession returns with festive characters, a lantern parade and entertainment parading the street in true Rye Christmas Festival form.

Wondering how you’re going to fit it all in? This year, for the first year ever, the committee are extending some of the festive fun to Sunday, December 8. This means you can book tickets for some of the festival activities for the following day, meaning nobody has to miss out. These activities include The Elf Academy, the Aladdin pantomime and Santa’s Grotto.

And if you’re worried about where to park, Rother District Council have kindly offered free parking on the day of the festival in selected car parks (and for a couple of dates after the festival for those who want to do some Christmas shopping in Rye).

Gibbets Marsh, Bedford Place and Lucknow Place car parks will be free to park in on December 7, 14 and 21, while the Cinque Ports Street Car Park and The Strand Car Park will be free on December 14 and 21 (they are both in use on December 7 for the festival).

All tickets for Rye Christmas Festival activities will be available on the website soon, with regular posts on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to keep an eye out for any updates and ticket releases.

Words by Hannah Curtis.