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DRAYTON MANOR – MAGICAL CHRISTMAS EVENT

WHAT: DRAYTON MANOR – MAGICAL CHRISTMAS EVENT
WHERE: DRAYTON MANOR THEME PARK, NEAR TAMWORTH, STAFFORDSHIRE, B78 3TW
WHEN: FROM NOW UNTIL THE 31ST DECEMBER 2019
COST: TICKETED EVENT

Treat the little ones this Christmas and get in an early visit along to see Santa, give him your little one’s Christmas list, and enjoy the variety of entertainment and rides on offer this December.

The Christmas experience at Drayton Manor is a fully inclusive package with something for all the family to enjoy. You can meet Santa in the castle of dreams and stroll around at your own pace and enjoy the interactive experience, with plenty of elves on hand to assist you with anything you need.

NB:  Please note that the time stated on your ticket is the time that you must join the queue for Santa and not enter the castle.

Enjoy over 25 Thomas and Friends themed rides and attractions at the park and a spectacular white Christmas is guaranteed as there will be snowfall in Thomas Land every day (please note that only selected rides are open during Magical Christmas no thrill rides), the 4D cinema film festival, witness the captivating live shows throughout the day full of music, dance and lights, take a walk through the winter wonderland or meet Rudolf the reindeer plus other furry friends of the park.

Entertainment times are as follows each day:

11am – Merry Christmas Welcome Show

12pm – 2pm – Rusty & Dusty’s Christmas Sing-Along Show

1pm, 2pm & 3pm – The Fat Controllers Jolly Christmas Show

4pm – The Magical Presents Show

For tickets and other information please see the website as there are different prices for different packages on different dates.

The gates on the run-up to Christmas and over it will differ slightly:

  • All dates before December 24th – park opens at 9:30am, rides start at 10:30am, the park closes at 5pm
  • On 24th December only – the park opens at 9:45am, rides start at 10:30am, the park closes at 4pm.
  • 27th December onwards – there will be no Father Christmas on these dates – the park will open at 9:45am, rides start at 10:30am, the park closes at 4pm.

To end each evening with a bang there will be a spectacular firework display lighting up the skies above Drayton Manor Park’s beautiful Lake. Don’t forget to ensure that you stay until the end to witness the Family Christmas Fireworks; a perfect way to finish your Christmas visit to the Park.

The fun doesn’t have to stop when the park closes, you can stay onsite at the 4* hotel and treat the whole family to this Christmas extravaganza.

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STONEHAVEN FIREBALL AND HOGMANAY

WHAT: STONEHAVEN FIREBALL AND HOGMANAY
WHERE: HIGH STREET, STONEHAVEN, ABERDEENSHIRE
WHEN: 31ST DECEMBER 2019
COST: FREE

With fire and fireworks on the agenda for this Scottish celebration, it may be easy to think that they have mixed the dates up with bonfire night – this is not the case and this event shares with the rest of the UK the unique way that the town of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire welcomes in the New Year.

Crowds begin to gather, lining the kerbsides of the High Street in preparation for watching the evening’s festivities unfold at around 10pm. Some hardier people brave the cold from 9:30 to get a perfect viewing spot. At 11pm the evening entertainment begins with pipe bands and drummers building up the crowd. Even though the event is free to attend, it is advised to get there early to grab a spot, as once the street has reached full capacity it will be closed off.

Moments before the old Town House bell chimes out at midnight, a lone piper will take his place, before the bustling crowds. As soon as the bells begin to ring, the High Street is lit in the orange glow as though the street is on fire as the fireballs are lit and the parade begins with the piper leading the way playing “Scotland the Brave”.

Whirling balls of flames fill the street as the swingers emerge from every avenue, making their way through the town centre, mesmerising the audience lining the pavements all the way down to the harbour. This event is said to help speed the old year on its way and welcome the new year in an ancient style with a spectacular and flammable performance.

After the parade, the fireballs if still burning are thrown into the harbour and the burnt-out fireballs are then retrieved the next day on New Year’s Day and normally cleaned with the handles saved and used for the following year.

The origin of this event is unknown and there are many theories and ancient tales as to why it all began. Documentary evidence shows its foundations link to a local 19th-century fisherman’s ritual making it around 110 years old. Some say the flames are to welcome back the sun or ward off the evil eye and bring good luck to the many fishing fleets in the town. Whereas, a pre-Christian theory is that the fireballs purify the world by consuming evil and warding off witches and evil spirits and the fact that the timing of the event coincides with the Winter Solstice (a pagan festival) supports this theory somewhat.

It also transpires that in the dark ages, a shooting star appeared above what is now Stonehaven and the following year, the nearby farms had bumper crops. The seers of the tribe then attributed this prosperity to the coming of the shooting star and the fireballs event began.

The ancient fireballs ceremony at the Scottish village of Stonehaven is 16 miles south from Aberdeen. It is one of the most unique Hogmanay festivals in Scotland, where on the stroke of midnight the high street is lit up as around 50 to 60 local fireball swingers make their way through the town. If you are staying in the area to get yourself some Scottish hospitality this Hogmanay, get along and see first hand one of the oldest events in the World.

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GUY MARTIN – OUR MAN IN JAPAN

Mechanic, motorcycle racer and television presenter of the odd engineering project, like the very entertaining Tractor Racing, Guy Martin becomes ‘Our Guy in Japan’ as he visits the area of Yokahama in Japan.

During his extensive race career, he endured some horrific injuries including a broken back (reconstructed), broken ribs and breaks to his hands (pinned) and legs (pinned).

He is a straight speaking fearless Yorkshireman who experienced dinner at a café with loads of micro pigs running around, a dip in a mildly radioactive hot spring and even visited the slums to see the ‘love hotels’ (bordello) illegal gambling and gangland first-hand. The first thing which surprises is that the Wi-fi in the slums is all free of charge. He ate Fugu (pufferfish) which, due to its very poisonous nature, MUST be prepared only by specially trained (and highly revered) chefs.

The shrine in Yokahama is the centre of the firework festival and carrying the shrine is an honour bestowed on very few people. The eight towns surrounding the City all send representatives with fireworks to the temple. Each cannon (firework battery – this one looks like a Maltese shell) is made from bamboo and straw and contain so much explosive, they have to be made at night when it is a little cooler to avoid exploding due to the high temperatures in Japan. The Shinto priest purifies all the pyrotechnics so that they can ward off evil for the coming year. Unlike the UK, the display starts and finishes with the biggest and best of the fireworks on offer so once the event is officially started (with a bang) each of those representatives from visiting towns shows their wares. The cannons are still made in the same way as the 16th-century Japanese artillery would have used many years ago.

Once the cannons are lit, then it is time to stand back and enjoy. When Guy was asked if he would like to have a go – INDEEDY!  He was a little worried (understandably) but they gave him a little one to hold and it was really dramatic, with a huge shower of sparks before a considerable wallop – his language was a little colourful, but it was really thrilling. His main comment was that the people clearly have no concept of Health and Safety and would not be allowed to even hold a sparkler without gloves etc on.

A great little documentary from the very engaging Guy Martin – we look forward to seeing the next episode.

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