Dazzled by the profusion of Christmas lights decorating neighbouring houses, Sandra Mangan sets off in search of some festive spirit – and finds it in spades at the Winter Gardens.
Bah humbug! Christmas is arriving earlier every year, and I can’t be doing with all the tinsel and cut-price tins of Quality Street when I’m still recovering from Bonfire Night. But that all changed at the weekend, when I took a trip to Dotty D Lightful’s Truly Christmas Handmade and Vintage Fair at the Winter Gardens.
Outside in St John’s Square, huge speakers were blaring out a distinctly unfestive Arctic Monkeys’ song, and weary shoppers were struggling along in the winter sunshine, laden with carrier bags. Through the Winter Gardens doors, I stepped into another world; suddenly, it was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
First, I spotted a lovely Christmas tree, then I followed the crowd and stepped into a gift shopper’s paradise. Pressie list in hand, I wandered from stall to stall, spotting a tiny treasure here, a knitted wonder there. Good job I’d brought my trusty husband along – because soon we were carrying a whole range of neat little brown paper carrier bags.
All that spending makes you thirsty, so we stopped for a well-earned cuppa and were thoroughly entertained by the talented young girl performing on stage.
I later discovered her name is Missa, she is a local lass and just a teenager! Her lovely voice was well suited to her chosen repretoire, ranging from Adele to Gershwin’s Summertime and, entranced, we sat and listened for much longer than we’d planned. Dotty D Lightful programmed a wide range of musical performances over the two day event – others on stage included Elizabeth Preston, Baxter Rhodes, Bill Orrick, The Galleon Allstars, April Keen, Malady & Medicine, Tali Febland and Bad Cardigan, and there were even Tribal belly dancers!
There were 145 stalls in all, so it was time for us to get back out into the shopping fray, and I was delighted to find non-dairy treats for my vegan friend, a gorgeous knitted stripey cat for the newest grandchild and doggy pawprint earrings for my canine-loving cousin. All smiles, we left the Winter Gardens with an empty purse, shopping bags full of unique gifts – and a tinsel-filled transfusion of Christmas spirit.
I gave Dotty a day to recover from all the excitement before asking her how the weekend had gone for her and the stallholders. She said:
We all had a wonderful time, there was some brilliant performers on stage, the stalls looked lovely and there was a really nice Christmas atmosphere. It was like a big friends’ reunion with the regular stallholders and I am looking forward to the summer fair in June.
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