More than 3,600 visitors got their festivities started when they flocked to a Christmas fair held for the first time over two days.
Whirlow Hall Farm’s Christmas fair has traditionally been staged on a Sunday only, but this year organisers decided to arrange twice the fun with a date on Saturday too – and reaped the benefits, raising £18,000 for educational charity the Whirlow Hall Farm Trust which helps children experience the countryside.
More than 100 stalls selling crafts and festive treats, a farmers’ market stocked with local produce, tasty mince pies to munch on washed down by spicy mulled wine, and a Santa’s grotto all helped attract the crowds. Mums and dads enjoyed browsing for books and gifts in the lambing barn, while youngsters got the chance to stroke animals including a Shetland pony and rare fluffy rabbits. Bands and choirs provided the seasonal music while hungry visitors stopped to tuck into a hog roast and barbecue.
Events organiser Suzanne Nitikman said: “We are known already for our Christmas fair, but the numbers this year far exceeded what we imagined.
“We didn’t know what to expect as it was the first time we have held the event over two days.”
The number of people who attended on the Sunday was still higher than in previous years – and Suzanne thanked volunteers at the farm – some of whom dressed as elves – for playing a vital part in running the event.
She said: “We have a great group of volunteers who recently won the Queen’s Award for volunteering.
“It was lovely the way everybody worked together on it. It would not have been possible without the staff and the volunteers.”