Christmas in Scarborough

Scarborough set to entertain shoppers with new six-week Christmas ‘variety show’ extravaganza

It’s great to see towns up and down the country now fighting back against losing shoppers to online stores by turning shopping into a great family experience.

Scarborough will become a Grinch-free zone for six weeks from 14 November, as a cast of magicians, musicians, street performers, famous panto characters – and Father Christmas – assemble to help bring glitter, glee and glam to the town’s streets and stores as part of a new six-week festival, Counting Down to Christmas – with a mission to make Christmas shopping fun.

Counting Down to Christmas will be Yorkshire’s largest Christmas variety show, guaranteed to put us in a feel-good festive spirit, as we enjoy Scarborough’s extravaganza of eclectic shops, indoor markets and attractions!” explains Sue Anderson-Brown, centre manager at Brunswick Shopping Centre and chair of the new town centre Christmas Steering Group.  “Scarborough has been Yorkshire’s showbiz capital for centuries, so we’re drawing on that great tradition of entertainment to make sure that the entire town sparkles this Christmas season like no other.  It’s also a celebration of Scarborough as a great place to shop, with its fantastic mix of high street retailers and independents, and friendly atmosphere – everything you’d want for Christmas from a premier coastal town.”  

During the major new festival – the brainchild of local businesses with funding from Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID) – Father Christmas will arrive by sailboat, and Queen Victoria will time-travel to the Victorian Christmas Market.  Meanwhile, on every Late Night Shopping Thursday and weekends in the countdown to Christmas, visitors to the town centre will be able to enjoy a magic lanternful of ever-changing festive fun from glitterfest drag queens to traditional Christmas carol-singing, from magic to music, from storytelling to street theatre – and including pantomime characters taking over the town.

Sue adds: “As Counting Down to Christmas is a partnership of local retailers and attractions, every week showcases something different.  It’s all designed to take the stress out of Christmas shopping, transforming the town centre into a place where festive fun reigns.  We want the Christmas Countdown to be just as magical as Christmas itself – a time when families can enjoy being together, having fun.

The show opens at 4pm on Thursday 14 November at the Big Light Switch-On, with the help of celebrity star guests (soon to be announced) waving their magic wands to light up the town, which will be decorated with illuminated baubles casting rainbows of colour onto the streets below, and a giant 8 metre-high, golden Christmas Tree.  The action continues with a spectacular laser-light show, while the town’s pantomime stars – including favourites from Treasure Island, Cinderella, and Jack & the Beanstalk – will be escaping onto the streets to sprinkle some Christmas magic.

Other Counting Down to Christmas highlights – all taking place on Late Night Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – include:

  • On 16 November, Santa arrives by boat – but will he be kidnapped on his way to Boyes store by the pirates from Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Treasure Island?  Follow the street parade to find out…
  • From 21 November, the inaugural ‘variety show’ weekend is strictly sparkling with dancers from the Julie Hatton Dance School, and a vintage blast from the past from Scarborough Music Band and a magnificent fairground organ from Scarborough Fair Collection (also playing on the 1, 8, 14 and 22 December).
  • From 21 November until Christmas, the pirate crew from the Stephen Joseph Theatre will be marauding around the town encouraging all ages to take part in the Treasure Island-inspired treasure trail, with prizes drawn each Thursday evening at 7pm
  • From 28 November, the cast – and enchanted carriage – from Scarborough Spa’s Cinderella have a ball in the town, while Yorkshire Coast legend Magic Mike, celebrating his 25th anniversary, and Chuck from Scarborough Spa will be bringing highlights from their Christmas show.  Meanwhile, performers from The Christmas Cracker make a stir in the Brunswick Centre, and Glitterfest drag queens take over the library.
  • From 5 December, pirates from Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Treasure Island invade the town centre, with magical and mischievous help from the cast of the YMCA’s Jack & the Beanstalk and the Naughty Christmas Tree.  
  • Between 10 – 15 December, the town steps into the world of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, as Queen Victoria makes a royal visit for her 200th birthday celebrations to the Victorian market in the town centre.  She’ll definitely be amused by the traders in full period costume at their uniquely themed Victorian market stalls, with Victorian games, magic and street theatre throughout the weekend
  • On 14 & 19 December, the cast from YMCA’s Jack & the Beanstalk help shoppers keep calm and smiling, as Counting Down to Christmas starts its final week…

During the festival, visitors will also be able to see a giant ‘Frozen’ ice sculpture, create Christmas cocktails, and listen to carols galore.  Elsewhere in town, a very busy Santa can be seen in his Grotto at Boyes store, at Scarborough Sealife, and on the North Bay Railway. 

Janet Deacon, Tourism & Corporate Marketing Manager for Scarborough Borough Council and Area Director for Welcome to Yorkshire says: “The Yorkshire Coast is an ideal destination for Christmas shopping –  with top-name high-street stores alongside a huge range of unique artisan shops, there’s enough choice to make any Christmas wish come true.  This is a fantastic initiative being led by the retailers and cultural attractions to make Christmas shopping a treat not a chore, so alongside the wealth of entertainment in town, the town’s hotels & B&Bs are also laying on Christmas pampering packages, while visitors can indulge in some relaxing time-out in the new Alpamare Wellness Spa – all hoping that we can tempt visitors to stay a little longer.

To make shoppers even happier, there’s also free car parking on Late Night Thursdays and also on Sundays in December, in council’s town-centre car parks, with the Brunswick Shopping Centre’s car park free on Thursdays, and East Yorkshire Motor Services Buses will be adding extra evening services across their local network during the Counting Down to Christmas festival, so people can make the most of late-night shopping, car-free!

For more information about Counting Down to Christmas, including a full line-up of events visit, or talk to the friendly, dedicated team at the Tourism Bureau on 01723 383636. To find out more about festive activity and places to stay along the Yorkshire Coast during November and December, visit

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Could you buy everything you need for Christmas locally?



This little poster / graphic was being forwarded around  social media last week and I  liked it so I thought I’d share it with you here.

Have a locally sourced Christmas


How many points on the Totally Locally Christmas Manifesto can you tick off this year?

  1. Take a walk down your high street
  2. As your butcher how to cook your roast – then ask for meat from a local farm
  3. Buy veg grown within walking distance
  4. Pick up your tipples from your local wine merchants
  5. Visit your high street baker
  6. Stop, Chat, Smile and Repeat
  7. Grab a brew & cake from your independent café
  8. Buy gifts made by people in your area and from small shops – feel good
  9. Pop to the deli for those nice bits
  10. Turn into the bookstore and ask what they’d recommend – and then buy it from them instead of going online.
  11. Discover an artist or maker from your town
  12. Check out your local market and enjoy the atmosphere
  13. Round off with a meal at a family run pub or restaurant.

If you can tick off most of these then you should get home, put your feet up and be proud you’ve supported your local community. When you do this your local economy grows and your town becomes a better place to live.


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Harrods Christmas department to open this week.

As in previous years Harrods are on track to open their Christmas Department in time for the last weekend in July.  Earlier this evening they tweeted a teaser…

Harrods Christmas Department 2013

While it may feel early it does of course make a lot of sense.  Over the next few weeks lots of tourists will visit London and while they are in the capital they will visit Harrods.  It’s always nice to buy some quality, tasteful Christmas decorations while on holiday.  They make lovely gifts for people when you get home or if you keep them for yourself they will remind you of a lovely summer holiday.

We’ll be back tomorrow to report on the details as they become available.

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Research claims 48% of people have already started buying their Christmas presents.

I’ve been encouraging people to shop early for Christmas for a few weeks now so I was very interested to spot the report of this research today.

According to research commissioned by Asda (the UK name for Walmart) 48% of the 8,000 people they surveyed said they had already bought some of their Christmas presents. Three quarters claimed it was an attempt to spread the cost of Christmas.

They also claimed that one in ten said they wouldn’t be sending any Christmas cards, with more than half saying it was an attempt to save money.   Certainly in many of the offices I visit people now prefer to hold a collection for charity instead of giving each other Christmas cards.

With only three more pay days until Christmas,time is running out for those who want to plan ahead for Christmas and spread the cost.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read my September Pre-Christmas Planning Guide and start planning ahead for Christmas.

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