Victorian Christmas Festival

Today we took a giant step back in time to the Victorian era with yet another visit to the Historic Dockyards in Portsmouth... this time for their yearly Victorian Christmas Festival. This year marks the 10year anniversary for this gorgeous festival and we were not to be dissappointed.

As soon as we got inside the gates, all securely rugged up from the cold snap that has suddenly set in as Christmas approaches, we headed for the booth giving tickets out for visits to Father Christmas' Grotto. Then it was off the the HMS Warrior, where the grotto was set inside the ship, surrounded by Christmas parafenalia. Father Christmas was certainly a sight to see. He was dressed in tradition Victorian Santa green... so different from the red he wears these days. The grotto and Santa looked like something out of a Christmas film... put tingles all down our spines. The boys even posed for their yearly picture while we were there. As we headed out again after our visit, we passed the booth, where a few children were now in tears because Santa's schedule was already full for the day ... good thing our intuition told us to get there first thing. It would have been heart breaking for the boys (and Matt & Kez) to miss out on this lovely Christmas experience.

Next on the agenda: roasted chestnuts for Matt and the boys. I had already tried them 20 years ago when I was in France for the first time and didn't particularly take to them. The boys had a massive bag of fairly floss so we decided to wander around the jam-packed Germany-style market stalls for a while before tackling the chestnuts. Then we happened across a group of Victorian-dressed carollers who were set up underneath the fall of fake snow that was set up in one section of the dockyards. It actually felt like were were standing in another time as we stood and listened to them sing Christmas songs of old while dressed up to suit... just lovely!

Finally, the nuts. Matt bought one bag of roasted nuts and started to eat them, only to have the same reaction I had all those years ago when I tried them.... not pleasant! Zane and Darian gave them a go too. Darian spat his out in disgust and Zane soldiered on... that boy will eat anything (once) ... he assured us he wouldn't buy them anytime too soon in the future. So, the final verdict: none of us like roasted chestnuts. Definately something to experience if you ever have the chance... just don't expect much more than a warm mushy experience... yuk!!!

In the afternoon we all got dressed up in Victorian garb ourselves for a little family portrait session. It was loads of fun! We definately looked the part... could definately have grown up in the Victorian era... if only for the clothes.

Finally, we enjoyed a traditional Punch & Judy show before watching the sunset parade which consisted of all the actors, dancers, etc who had participated in the days activities and re-enactments. Once the heavens opened up into a watery deluge we decided to duck back into the market stalls (which were indoors) to enjoy a quiet look around while the rest of the crowds stayed outside to watch the last of the parade. A brilliant day!


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