Stoke-on-Trent & The Potteries may not automatically spring to mind as one of the most obvious destinations in the UK to enjoy all of the sights, sounds and smells of the Festive Season. But with its famous-name factory shops, winter gardens, Dickensian events, world-class decorations, Christmas lights, markets and artisan goods, country walks and live Pantos, the city which came within a hair’s breadth of winning the right to become the 2021 UK City of Culture is inviting it visitors to put on their Christmas jumpers and gallop like red-nosed reindeer to join this year’s party. And here are just some of the reasons why…
A magical Christmas Children’s Trail at The World of Wedgwood
The World of Wedgwood has quite rightly gained a national reputation for staging some of the most seasonal scenes at its flagship store at Barlaston, in Stoke-on-Trent. This year’s Magical Wedgwood Christmas at World of Wedgwood will run from Monday 12 November to Sunday 6 January (excluding Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day), bringing with it a range of creative activities with a Christmas twist – as well as a new Christmas Children’s Museum Trail to explore. Wedgwood once again promises plenty of “breathtaking displays, decorations and inspiration” alongside its shopping opportunities and festive Afternoon Tea in The Wedgwood Tea Room. Activities will include ‘Pottery Painting’, ‘Design a Plate’ and ‘Learn How to Throw a Pot’. The free-to-enter Christmas Children’s Trail in the Wedgwood Museum will be available every day from 10am to 5pm. And there will also be a chance to wrap up warm and take a seasonal Winter Wildlife Walk through Hem Heath Woods. On top of all that, a Christmas Market & Fine Food and Artisan Crafts will be held at the World of Wedgwood on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December from 10am to 4pm – featuring over 50 stalls of festive gifts and treats from local producers and artisans, alongside street food and live music.
Start your Christmas shopping with breakfast by the world’s largest polka dot Aga
Emma Bridgewater will be giving their visitors the chance to celebrate Christmas in traditional style at the Victorian factory in Stoke-on-Trent, where all their distinctive pottery is made and decorated by hand. Special Shoppers’ Tours & Breakfast events, priced £10 per person, will take place every weekday during November and December: and anyone booking a 10am factory tour in advance will be able to enjoy breakfast in the cosy café, warmed by the world’s largest polka dot Aga – and will also receive a 15% shopping discount (£10per person). Other events being planned at Emma Bridgewater include their annual Christmas Lights Switch-on, on Saturday 24 November between 2pm and 4.30pm; and a Celebrate the Season day on Saturday 1 December from 11am to 4pm, when visitors can meet reindeer, learn to make a wreath, create clay decorations and even discover Emma’s Christmas pudding recipe.
Meet the REAL Father Christmas in a Dickensian setting
The Christmas Lights Switch-on at Middleport Pottery (£3 on the door) is scheduled for Saturday 1 December from 6pm to 9pm and will mark the start of the Victorian Christmas programme at this famous “as-seen-on-TV” attraction. The programme will also include Another Christmas Carol (£12 per person, not suitable for under 11s) on Monday 10 December in the company of Charles Dickens as he regales his audience with this hitherto-unknown festive tale. In the style of the public performances the great Victorian writer gave during the nineteenth century, this one-man theatre show is the perfect seasonal treat to whet your appetite for the Yuletide celebrations. The Family Christmas Market (£3 entry) on Sunday 16 December will then feature artisan gifts, and the REAL Father Christmas – who will also be popping up at Middleport from 18 to 23 December (£12, booking required).
Brass bands and carols beneath the bottle kilns
Gladstone Pottery Museum will also have a full schedule of seasonal events in the run-up to Christmas, including a Victorian Christmas Fun Day on Saturday 1 December, featuring festive stories from characters from Dickens’ Christmas Carol. While their ever-popular Christmas Carol Evening will this year take place on Friday 14 December from 5 to 7pm.
Museum & Art Gallery to be transformed into A Winter Wonderland
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery will be transformed into A Winter Wonderland from Saturday 10 November to Sunday 17 February 2019. Winter has provided the inspiration to North Staffordshire potters for centuries: from Wedgwood’s ‘Winter’ jasper candlestick, modelled by William Hackwood; to Spode’s iconic ‘Christmas Tree’ design. A Winter Wonderland is a display of ceramics in which shape, decoration and design has been inspired by winter and all that we associate with it.
Don’t miss the chance to visit one of the country’s finest Winter Gardens
A feast of festive fun will get the seasonal countdown under way, when Trentham Shopping Village hosts its popular annual Christmas Lights Switch-On at the end of November. The Christmas Launch on November 28 will see the extended Shopping Village sparkle with festive lights, and come alive with plenty of seasonal entertainment. Trentham Gardens, meanwhile – now one of the top four most visited paid-for garden attractions in England – is where visitors will also find one of the nation’s finest Winter Gardens.
Robin Hood’s in Stoke-on-Trent. Oh, yes he is…
Stoke-on-Trent’s Regent Theatre has a long tradition of providing some of the best panto fun in the country, and 2018 promises to be no different as Robin Hood starring Jonathan Wilkes stars as Robin Hood and Christian Patterson as Friar Tuck. Robin Hood begins on December 14, and runs through to January 6; and it promises to be “packed full of comedy, action, adventure and plenty of glitz and glamour”.
A seasonal adaptation of The Wind in the Willows
The adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows will have a seasonal run at Newcastle-under-Lyme’s New Vic Theatre from Saturday 17 November to Saturday 26 January 2019. Join Rat, Mole, Badger and Mr Toad for an adventure on the River Bank, as they navigate boat trips, intriguing new places and a succession of motor cars that will take them hurtling down winding country lanes. Performed by a large cast, featuring live music and filled with cunning, courage and friendship, The Wind In The Willows is an enchanting story that will capture the imaginations – and the hearts – of the whole family this Christmas.