HELENSBURGH Winter Festival kicks off for its seventh year on Saturday – with a guest appearance by antiques expert and Antiques Roadshow star Roo Irvine, who has kindly agreed to open the event.
Once again this year the festival centrepiece will be the amazing Golden Gallopers on a traditional fairground carousel – a memory making opportunity for people of all ages and with sleigh rides suitable for handicapped or less able visitors.
And as well as the big Carousel there will be a number of other kiddie rides including a smaller roundabout on Sunday and for both days the ever popular Victorian Chair o’ Plane ride and some mini dodgems
There will be sides shows and games, amazing street food from many continents and an amazing Christmas market featuring around 100 stalls offering more Christmas present ideas than anyone could wish for even the family pets!
The Rotary Club of Helensburgh Garelochside will be in charge of Santa’s Grotto and expect the great man to arrive to meet the children between 10am and 4pm Saturday, and noon to 4pm on Sunday.
The ever-popular Penguin Hunt is being sponsored this year by Helensburgh’s Grasshopper Toys, and there are 40 pesky penguin pals of the festival’s little mascot hiding in town shops just waiting to be found.
The penguins, created by children from local schools, all have their own names and all our entrants need to do if find 10 of them and fill in their names and the shop they found them in on the special entry form. When they take their completed entry to Grasshopper Toys they will receive a small prize.
To mark the launch of the new Frozen 2 Movie this month, Party Palz Entertainment will be bringing very special guests, Elsa, Anna and Olaf to Helensburgh for the Winter Festival Weekend. They will be in the square all weekend, all ready for their photo opportunities and autographs!
Also visiting again this year will be the delightful Ayrshire Reindeer who bring great festive joy to the event and who are happy to meet visitors and have their photos taken.
There will be an opportunity to get your festive face painted by our face painter and the Olde Christmas Shoppe are hosting a hair artist who will be adding real tinsel to visitors’ hair all ready for the full festive season of party fun.
Visiting for the first time this year are the Strathleven Artisans who are bringing the history of King Robert The Bruce to life. They will have their exhibition trailer with a replica throne and medieval costumes for people to dress-up, along with some replica weapons, stocks and medieval gear to give you a flavour of what life was like in the 14th century when Bruce lived in Cardross.
Live Argyll will be in the Square on Saturday offering health checks and sports challenges with free gym passes to be won.
Helensburgh historical experts Stewart Noble and Nigel Millar of Helensburgh Heritage Trust will be taking town centre walks on Saturday, helping visitors to see Helensburgh through new eyes, and find out some of the less well-known features of the town’s past.
The walks will start at the front door of the Victoria Halls at 10.30am and 2pm, and will end in the town centre, and they will last around an hour and 45 minutes.
Helensburgh and Lomond Artisans Association will be having a craft fair with 16 local crafters in the main hall at The Bridge Helensburgh Parish Church, and there will be a pop-up tearoom with delicious homemade Christmas baking for Robin House Children’s Hospice in Balloch. There will also be a fundraising game for Robin House provided by The Toy Shop in Helensburgh.
Local emergency services, including the Royal Navy’s bomb disposal unit, will be there on Saturday, while Sunday once again sees the incredible Round Table Santa Dash which attracts Santas from all over the country.
This year they will be joined by the colourful character Monty from Monty’s Farm. Monty and his helper will be joining in at the warm-up, cheering on the Santas and welcoming them back over the line with a goodie bag.
The Santa Dash route is the same as last year; the full Dash is approximately 4Km – however, there is Santa’s Secret Short Cut for younger Dashers and those who want to reduce the distance by half!
This year all profits from the Santa Dash will be given to a local good cause with the aim of giving vulnerable people and families a Merry Christmas. The warm-up starts at 12.15pm and the dash itself sets off at 12.30pm, with all proceeds going to the Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank and Visiting Friends.
Musicians and dancers will provide on-stage entertainment throughout the weekend, and a fabulous line-up of classic cars from far and wide will prove an added attraction for petrol-heads.
The full round up of entertainment for the weekend is:
Saturday, November 30
10:00am – Background Music
10.30am – Piper & Penguin
10:45am – Roo Irvine from Antiques Roadshow will officially open the Festival
11:00am – Donna Martin & Dancefit Helensburgh
11:30pm – Jack Mullen – Vocalist
12.00pm – Kilcreggan Brownies
12:30pm – Fresh Element Dance Group
1.00pm – Ian McLeod Musical Theatre
1:30pm – Scott Cuthbertson, Scotland’s Magician!
2.00pm – Bearsden & Milngavie Youth Orchestra
2:30pm – Rosie Green – Female Vocalist
3:00pm – Sophie Ramsay – Female Vocalist
3.30pm – John David’s Pupils singing Christmas songs
3.45pm – Euan Russell – Male Vocalist
Sunday, December 1
12.00pm – Santa Dash Warm-Up
12.30pm – Santa Dash Start
1:00pm – Tranquil & Lesley Farmer – Dance Group & Pantomime
1:30pm – Ukulele Group
1.45pm – Helensburgh Junior Choir
2:00pm -Donna Martin & Dancefit
2:15pm – Katy Orr Musical Theatre – singing songs from Mary Poppins
2:30pm – Hazel Stevenson – Female Vocalist
3:00pm – Ricky Green – Singing Classic Country Music
3:30pm – FM Saxophone – Lomond School Quartet
3.45pm – Pippa Reid-Foster – Harpist
4.00pm – James Smart rounding off the Festival with the Finale!
And the fun doesn’t end when you leave Colquhoun Square: the Cancer Research UK shop in Sinclair Street are holding a special Christmas jumper event throughout the weekend, with mince pies and festive punch, while there’s also a free pop-up exhibition with artist Lesley Carruthers at the Mackintosh Club in nearby Sinclair Street, from 1pm onwards on Sunday.
After the festival closes on Sunday, the Glasgow Phoenix Choir, under the baton of their new conductor and musical director, Cameron Murdoch from Kilcreggan, will perform at Helensburgh Parish Church at 7pm on Sunday – tickets are £10 from the church box office.
It all promises to add up to a memorable weekend – don’t miss next week’s Advertiser for full coverage!