Brrrr, it’s cold out there! Snow fell in Wairarapa this week, so what perfect timing for an Arctic blast because Greytown’s second annual Festival of Christmas has begun, with the tree lights being flicked on on Friday. This year, there’s a huge programme – throughout July there’ll be activities, food and shopping. The festival is already in full force, and you’ll arrive to find the town’s historic main street will be beautifully lit, reminiscent of European Christmas festivals, and there’ll be markets, parties, family fun and Matariki celebrations.
The first festival was held last year, a way to enjoy our freedoms post-lockdown, and to get out and celebrate the chilly weather. This year’s events are hugely varied – from drive-in movies to a dog portrait competition – so there’s definitely something in there for everyone.
Every weekend the Big Christmas Tree will be switched on – head to Town Square on Fridays and and Saturdays at 6pm.
At the Cobblestone Museum there’s heaps of family fun. They have old-fashioned games to play – hobby horses, stilts and hoops on the lawn – every Saturday afternoon, and rides in the museum’s vintage fire engine (pick up is outside the Town Hall, Saturdays between 1-3pm, for a gold coin donation). Next Saturday there is a celebration of Matariki with Maori games, stuffed kumara and stories, and next week it’s a Victorian Christmas celebration – think mince pies and mulled wine, and an old silent movie with piano accompaniment.
For the adults, the fun comes out at night. Every Saturday from 5pm, the night markets will offer mulled wine – or hot chocolate if that’s your tipple – and shopping. And for your Saturday night sins, early each Sunday morning, there are sunrise heritage walks – gather at 8.30 outside the Town Hall to learn about the history, people and architecture of Greytown.
The independent local stores Greytown is famous for will also be hosting their own events. On the 9th, gather at Blackwell & Sons, the British bicycle shop, for cocktails and constellations – it’s a stargazing evening, with drinks. And at the White Swan on July 14 and 15, it’s cocktails and comedy- see Michelle A’Court, Eli Matthewson or James Roque perform while you enjoy dinner and a martini.
Greytown is well known for its craftiness – from the gorgeous Miss Maude haberdashery to the handmade chocolates at Schoc – and there are loads of workshops for those who like to get a little hands-on.Choose from sewing and knitting classes, wellness workshops, make a wooden toy, or carve a wooden spoon. And kids can learn to make their own Christmas decorations.
And there’s so much more – dog shows, a mid-winter high tea, soul food and live music, and boozy Christmas feasts that include free transport within the Wairarapa (perfect for locals). There are local wine tastings at Village Wine, and discounts and free gifts for shoppers along the high street.
The festival runs for an entire month, and there’s absolutely tonnes on – more than 30 events and 40 workshops – so download the full programme at greytownvillage.com
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