Christmas arrives this weekend at Hatton Country World

Christmas arrives this weekend at Hatton Country World

Hatton Country World, Christmas

Hatton Country World, Christmas

Hatton Country World is pulling out all the stops to bring visitors of all ages an unforgettable experience again this Christmas – starting this weekend.

From Christmas Shopping ‘As It Should Be in the Village’ to magical visits with Father Christmas in the ‘Enchanted Christmas Kingdom’, watching festive films at the new ‘Drive-In Cinema’ and seeing a spectacular Christmas Light Trail.

The highly successful ‘Enchanted Christmas Kingdom’ returns for a second year every weekend on the run up to Christmas, when Hatton is transformed into a Winter Wonderland.

It includes a 3D Glowing Forest, where both adults and children immerse themselves in a magical world of lights and festive figures, and an interactive North Pole postal station for sending letters to Father Christmas. Visitors can also look forward to visiting Father Santa in his cosy Grotto,  as well as enjoying Mr. Holly’s Magic show, gingerbread decorating with Mother Christmas, reindeer food making, Father Christmas’s secret toy shop and the return of the Create-a-Bear experience.

The ‘Christmas Light Trail’ will take place on selected dates from 30th November-30th December when visitors can meander along a mile of over 40 dazzling light displays including light tunnels, and infinity squares. After marvelling at the lights, visitors can get cosy in their cars and watch a Christmas film under the glittering stars.  The Drive-In Cinema runs on selected dates between 1st-23rd December with showings at 6.30pm and 9.30pm. Audio can be provided by either headphone or FM radio transmitter. Films will include Frozen, Bad Santa, Deck the halls, Jingle all the Way, Santa Clause, Jack frost, Elf, Arthur Christmas, The Polar Express, The Holiday, Nativity, Gremlins, Home Alone, Love Actually, The Grinch and The Nightmare before Christmas.

Johnnie Arkwright, owner of Hatton Country World said, “This year, Hatton Country World is set to deliver a magical, fun-filled holiday season for everyone and a Christmas celebration like no other! Our Christmas events will delight visitors of all ages with new, exciting offerings, making Hatton a must-visit location this Christmas.

“Visitors can create cherished memories with their family and loved ones and capture the perfect holiday selfie that will last a lifetime.  The Christmas Markets will be bursting with festive gifts and unique presents. Grab your scarf and gloves, wrap up warm and visit Hatton for a memorable and magical experience this Christmas!”

For more information, ticket bookings, and updates please visit the website here

Review: The Box of Delights

Review: The Box of Delights

The Box of Delights, RSC
Photos by Manuel Harlan

John Masefield’s 1935 tale The Box of Delights is the Christmas gift of choice from the RSC this year.

While generations of children have been brought up on this festive tale, I was coming to it fresh, which I believe is no bad thing.

The Box of Delights, RSC

Not an advent calendar yet in sight, but Christmas is now well and truly in the air and it all started for me last night with this full-on family festive production.

Originally produced for Wilton’s Music Hall in 2017, Piers Torday’s reimagining of Masefield’s much-loved children’s classic tells the story of orphaned schoolboy Kay Harker who finds himself the guardian of a small wooden box with powers beyond his wildest dreams.

The Box of Delights, RSC

On a train on his way to spend Christmas with his guardian Caroline Louisa, Harker, played by Callum Balmforth, meets the mysterious Mr Hawlings, played by Stephen Boxer, who asks him to take charge of a small magical box known as The Box of Delights. Mr Hawlings confides in Kay that a villainous magician known as Abner Brown has been chasing him in a bid to steal the box.

Kay arrives home to be joined in his adventure by brother and sister duo Maria and Peter Jones, played by Mae Munho and Jack Humphrey who are also spending Christmas in the village of Condicote with Caroline Louisa.

Cole Hawlings – who is more than 1,000 years old – is striving to keep the box from his arch-enemy and rival philosopher, Abner Brown whose mission threatens Christmas itself. It comes down to Kay, Maria and Peter to save it – with the help of the magic box of course.

Wit and wonderment are abound whenever they’re on stage and there’s a clear chemistry in their performances. (Even if their relationship did feel reminiscent of the Famous Five at times!)

This is a pacy – and at times perplexing – adaptation of the story that has the potential to confuse newcomers to Masefield’s work. But, not unlike many RSC experiences, if you relax into it and let it take you on a journey, you’ll soon find your way.

But, for me, it’s off stage, where the real magic happens. This revived and emboldened version of the story has been most brilliantly enhanced, from flight and flood through to mythical creatures and mystical illusions, thanks to the innovative use of special effects and stagecraft which feeds effortlessly into our imaginations. What results is a dynamic journey of audio-visual mastery. An impressive spectacle indeed and not one to be missed.

The Box of Delights, RSC

Nothing says Christmas more than a magical festive production courtesy of the RSC. Bring on the mince pies. . .

The Box of Delights plays at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre until January 7th. Tickets are available here.

  • I was gifted tickets to this production in exchange for a review containing my honest views.
Giving the gift of Christmas to Alcester

Giving the gift of Christmas to Alcester

St Nicholas Night, Alcester

Festive family magic is returning to Alcester with St Nicholas Night celebrations next month.

Taking place on December 6th, this year will see the return of Santa’s Grotto to the High Street for the first time since 2019, courtesy of members of Alcester and Bidford Rotary Club.

St Nicholas Night, Alcester

Youngsters are invited to meet Father Christmas between 4-7pm, next to St Nicholas Church, where he will also be handing out gifts with the help of his elves. And to keep mum and dad warm, there’s a mulled wine and mince pie stall next door!

Rotarians are also represented in the foot parade, from 5.30pm, which finishes at the church, at the top of the High Street. It is led by the Child Bishop who will then also light the Church Tower and tree.

Crowds will be entertained by live music and dance routines performed by local schoolchildren and there will be a host of local charity stalls along High Street. The event’s climax will take the form of a fireworks display which can be viewed from Stratford Road at 8.45pm.

The rector of St Nicholas Church and chair of St Nicholas Night Committee, Katie Cross, said: “We are looking forward welcoming Alcester town and surrounding villages to the relaunch St Nicholas Night on 6th December, the festival sate of the patron saint St Nicholas. It will be a fun-filled evening with parade, stalls, Santa’s grotto and finishing with fireworks.”

The grotto costs £5 for one child, £9 for two children or £12 for three children. Proceeds from the grotto and stall will go to Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign.

Kay Blake, spokesperson for Alcester and Bidford Rotary Club, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the return of St Nicholas’ Night in Alcester which of course came to an abrupt halt with the Covid pandemic in 2020. We welcome it back complete with Santa’s Grotto, including gifts for the children and the popular mulled wine and mince pies, with all profits once again going to a fantastic cause.”

To find out more about the work of Alcester and Bidford Rotary Club contact:

To learn more about the Rotary’s work with the End Polio Now campaign, visit here

Return of Kenilworth Business Expo hailed huge success

Return of Kenilworth Business Expo hailed huge success

Kenilworth Business Expo, Kenilworth Chamber of Trade
From left: Sarah Kershaw, of The Chamber; Georgina Mitchell of Holiday Inn; Sir Jeremy Wright MP; Nadine Hummert, of The Chamber and Molly Rudd of Holiday Inn. Photos by Karen Massey Photography.

More than 40 businesses from across Warwickshire were represented at Kenilworth Chamber of Trade’s Business Expo, returning after four years, on Friday. (Nov 17th)

The event, hosted by main sponsor The Holiday Inn, Kenilworth, also offered visitors the chance to sit in on three seminars involving speakers from the world of business marketing: Amanda Chalmers, of Chalmers News PR; Ian O’Donnell MBE, of Real Point  who talked about Video for Business, and Gus Bhandal of MGuru, who presented on ‘How To Be Awesome on Linked In.’

Kenilworth Business Expo, Kenilworth Chamber of Trade
Sir Jeremy Wright MP addresses the exhibitors. Photo by Karen Massey Photography.

The half-hour sessions, brought an enthusiastic response from attendees and offered a valuable learning element to the day.

Lunchtime saw a Tai Chi session with My Healthy Steps, and the day finished on a high with a fast-moving, speed networking activity hosted by Action Coach Warwick.

Chair of Kenilworth Chamber of Trade, Nadine Hummert and Sir Jeremy Wright, MP for Kenilworth and Southam, welcomed exhibitors and visitors, commenting on the importance of the unique and valuable business community in Kenilworth.  Sir Jeremy then took the opportunity to visit exhibitors to discuss local business issues.

Later in the day, Kenilworth’s Mayor, Councillor Alix Dearing, opened the afternoon session, also spending time visiting the different exhibitor stands and making connections.

The Chamber’s Sarah Kershaw. Photo by Karen Massey Photography.

Headline Sponsor, Roisin Ni’Chonghaile of True Potential Wealth Management, said it had been a privilege to sponsor the event, not only an opportunity to support and celebrate the diverse local business community but a great opportunity for all to promote their business services face to face.

Kenilworth Business Expo, Kenilworth Chamber of Trade
Gus Bhandal of MGuru was ne of the speakers. Photo by Karen Massey Photography.

Nadine Hummert said: “The small team on the Chamber Committee are very proud of what has been achieved at the Expo; there was a huge buzz in the room all day – people making valuable contacts, engaging with each other, learning and connecting.

“We were excited by the variety of businesses who were so keen to be a part of the event and use it as an opportunity to promote their business. Solicitors, Ward and Rider, took the opportunity to showcase their new office in Kenilworth, having recently merged with David Lee Solicitors.

Amanda Chalmers presented a talk called The Power of PR. Photo by Karen Massey Photography.

“Kenilworth Town Council launched their Business Forum Survey; there was a huge variety of different businesses- service providers, retailers and health and wellbeing – Chamber members Mander Hadley Solicitors, Kenilworth Footcare, ARHR, East Chase Distillers, Spot On, BNI Kenilworth, Time for Me, Super-Being, Socially Shared and Primrose Bespoke, Pragmatic Consulting, Karen Massey Photography, Financial Design, FSB, Alsters Kelley, Audley Villages, Shelley Wilson Author and Cube Accounting – were among them.”

The event also raised £120 for the charity for the day, was the Kenilworth Centre, who were keen to showcase the many support services and community activities that they provide.

Guest Speaker, Ian O’Donnell MBE commented: “Thank you Kenilworth Chamber for hosting such a dynamic and enriching Expo.  We’re already looking forward to the next opportunity to be a part of this vibrant business community.”

Ian O’Donnell MBE, of Real Point Video for Business. Photo by Karen Massey Photography.

To keep in touch with Kenilworth Chamber of Trade, find out more about networking events and business opportunities, please visit here.

New Christmas Craft Fair will help two Warwick charities

New Christmas Craft Fair will help two Warwick charities

Left to right: The Gap Director Marcos Campos, craft fair organiser Emma Joyce Smith, Molly Ollys Co-Founder Rachel Ollerenshaw, and The Gap General Administration Manger Mandy Burford get ready for the charity Christmas craft fair at The Gap Community Centre.

Local residents are being invited to buy a Christmas present with heart this Christmas at a new charity craft fair. A local community centre and a Woodloes resident are banding together to put on the fair to raise money for two Warwick charities, helping terminally ill kids, and people needing company to avoid ill health due to loneliness.

Being held at The Gap Community Centre close to the Chantry Shops on Spinney Hill in Warwick on Saturday 2nd December from 1.30 to 4.30 pm, proceeds from the fair will go to Molly Ollys and The Gap Charity. There will be 18 stalls with an exciting variety of handmade Christmas gifts by local crafters, plus seasonal refreshments, and a raffle with great prizes donated by local businesses.

The event is the brainchild of Emma Joyce Smith, who organises annual charity craft fairs as a way to give back to the community, and this year she is working in collaboration with The Gap.

Moved by the story of Molly Ollys founders Tim and Rachel Ollerenshaw, who set up the charity for children with life threatening illnesses following the sad death of their eight-year-old daughter Molly, Emma decided to fundraise for their cause. She is also helping people of all ages avoid ill health due to lack of company and loneliness, which can be as debilitating as smoking and obesity, by fundraising for community togetherness activities run by The Gap Charity.

Emma said: “I’ve been putting on craft fairs for the last ten years as it’s a hobby and I love organising them. In the past I’ve fundraised for national charities, but this year it’s been fantastic to work alongside two local charities who both do amazing work in the community.

“I’m really excited about the stalls we’ve got lined up, there’s everything from homemade jams and chutneys to Christmas gnomes, wooden gifts, jewellery, and samosas! Thanks also to all the amazing local businesses who’ve generously donated fabulous raffle prizes including vouchers, hampers, and event tickets.”

For the past few months, two over 60’s social groups at The Gap community centre, also the venue for the craft fair, have been making things to sell. The Knit ‘n’ Natter craft group has been making cosy, warm knitted bobble hats, perfect for the chilly winter weather, and the Live Life wellbeing group has been making lavender bags, Christmas crackers, calendars and more.

The Gap’s General Administration Manager Mandy Burford said: “It’s been great fun working with Emma and we can’t wait to host the fair on the first Saturday in December. Many people don’t realise The Gap’s a charity working to bring people together at the community centre to help end loneliness, and social and financial isolation in Warwick, and we’re independently funded. It’s a great fundraising initiative by Emma and we’re so pleased to support her as well as helping Molly Ollys, another brilliant Warwick charity. Please put the date in your diary and spread the word. It’s all for a good cause.”

Molly’s Mum and the charity’s Co-Founder, Rachel Ollerenshaw, said: “This craft fair is a great way to raise awareness that Molly Ollys is here for local and UK families who may be coping with a child aged 0-18 years who has a life-threatening illness. We share our story about our daughter Molly’s cancer battle to show people we understand and we’re here to help. Molly Ollys grants wishes, helps with cost-of-living support, provides Olly the Brave Lion cuddly toys, books for children and young siblings about being in hospital, and more.”

The craft fair will take place at The Gap community centre at 39 Oakwood Grove, CV34 5TD, across the green from the Chantry shops, and easily accessible on the number 1 bus route. For more information about the fair and activities at The Gap community centre contact Mandy on 01926 494200 or visit For more information about Molly Ollys visit