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History of the Beverley Festival of Christmas

It is often asked why and how did the very first Beverley Festival of Christmas come about. A number of traders thought that they as a group should give something back to the community who supported them and the idea of a celebration of Christmas in all its aspects would be a good thing to do.

None of the group had ever done anything like it before and there was no budget. Financial support was sought in the form of donations from businesses, circulars were distributed to potential stall holders, many meetings were held, much discussion took place, a plan was formulated and at last in December 1995 the first Beverley Festival of Christmas took place.

That year there were only a handful of stalls, but it was successful, and year on year it grew, until after eighteen years it became such a large event that the committee felt that it required professional expertise. The festival had become a victim of its own success.

The chairman approached the East Riding of Yorkshire Council who agreed to take it over. It has continued to go from strength to strength and has remained arguably one of the largest and most successful one day events of its type in the country.

The festival has always been known for the excellent and varied entertainment which it provides. We once engaged two Russian xylophonists who were travelling through the country and just happened to be in the area, they entertained the crowds with a virtuoso performance; as did two trumpeters straight out of music school, who were quite brilliant. We have had a solo violinist, opera singer, three Italian tenors together with several folk groups, and a skiffle group which has come virtually from the beginning.

2010 was the year of the big freeze which affected the country as a whole. By the middle of the week there was six inches of ice covering the centre of the town, it looked as though the festival would have to be cancelled but the council came to the rescue employing an army of men armed with picks and shovels who cleared the whole area and carted away lorry loads of snow and ice, enabling the festival to take place.

It is true to say that thanks to the inspiration of one of the organising committee members, the festival really took off with the introduction of the Cairngorm Reindeer, pulling Santa on his sleigh through the town. However it did cause us a slight problem as we had to engage a dung collector to follow the reindeer, and we had to provide hand wipes to anyone who touched the reindeer.

People often ask us, why is the festival so successful? We believe that it is a combination of factors. The natural setting of the town is a perfect backdrop; the number and quality of the stalls providing a wide range of goods; excellent and varied free entertainment suitable for all the family and last but by no means least a safe and happy friendly environment which all can enjoy.


JB History