What will a COVID-Christmas mean for St Albans’ annual traditions?

PUBLISHED: 12:32 14 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:32 14 September 2020

St Albans Christmas Cracker - photo by Craig Shepheard.

St Albans Christmas Cracker - photo by Craig Shepheard.

Archant

Will Santa still be coming down the chimney this year and will we be leaving out hand sanitiser rather than brandy and mince pies? After all, the bearded man goes all around the world...spreading his germs.

The launch of the St Albans Christmas Charter Market. Picture: Stephanie BeltonThe launch of the St Albans Christmas Charter Market. Picture: Stephanie Belton

Though some might be already dreaming of an unprecedented Christmas, others might be filled with dread about what may be in store with COVID restrictions in place.

We took a look at some of St Albans’ most popular seasonal attractions, and tried to work out how things will be different under government guidelines.

Unfortunately many of the organisations we spoke to have yet to clarify their COVID contingencies, but we’ve done our best to establish what is known so far...

1. Will there be a pantomime at the Arena this year? “Oh no there won’t!” is the answer. This is a massive let-down not just to all the families for whom it is a festive tradition but obviously for all the stars, musicians and back-stage crew. And - unlike Bob Golding’s gags - that’s not funny. You could see if your family or street would like to join you in forming your own Christmas panto. It would save you a few quid, if nothing else.

The launch of the St Albans Christmas Charter Market. Picture: Stephanie BeltonThe launch of the St Albans Christmas Charter Market. Picture: Stephanie Belton

2. Father Christmas is definitely in the vulnerable category for COVID which means that visiting Santa’s grotto at Willows Activity Farm might be off the cards too. You could make an old man smile by instead writing to or visiting them in a care home. Perhaps don’t sit on their knee though.

3. And how is a socially distanced Christmas lights turn-on going to work? There are whispers of a virtual switch-on but what will that entail? St Albans BID (Business Improvement District) has confirmed lights, crosswires in St Peters Street, lamp post lights along all London Road, Victoria Street, Hatfield Road, Holywell Hill and illuminated pieces such as a carriage and snow globe.

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4. Social media is buzzing with talk of community Christmas trees. Anyone know what these are?

Stall holders at the St Albans Christmas Market in the Vintry Gardens. Picture: DANNY LOOStall holders at the St Albans Christmas Market in the Vintry Gardens. Picture: DANNY LOO

5. You might still want to avoid busy shopping centres but there will be markets from mid-November to Christmas Eve where you can support local businesses that might be needing the revenue boost after this year and also be outside in the fresh air with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine.

6.There might not be as many parties this year but The Dressing Room will have a festive event on November 28 and 29 with all the usual excitement and Christmas outfit styling and gifts, all safely organised with social distancing in place.

7. Do you feel intimacy has been slightly lost this year? What better way to restore that than by giving someone a gift you made? Cositas offer workshops where you can personalise your own homemade gift and enjoy yourself at the same time. From furniture painting to macramé, wreath-making screen printing and brush lettering, there is something for everyone.

8.Throughout St Albans there will be a Festive Trail with trail maps and collectable cards involving 20 shops, The Maltings Shopping Centre will be hosting a big competition, and Christopher Place will be putting up a spectacular tree for customers and traders alike.

St Albans pantomime Sleeping Beauty at The Alban Arena. Picture: Pamela RaithSt Albans pantomime Sleeping Beauty at The Alban Arena. Picture: Pamela Raith

The reality is we don’t really know what this Christmas will bring. People have different priorities and ideas about what makes a good Christmas. For many, the message of hope, light and love and the birth of Jesus will still remain in their hearts and communities.

Often St Albans residents turn to help people less fortunate than themselves, which we are sure will be the case this year.

Please do keep in touch with us and let us know about your plans for festive fun at hertsad@archant.co.uk


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