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See Ashford in a new light this Christmas

Published : 05/11/2019

An incredible, never-seen-before series of events will dazzle and amaze Ashford this December.

On Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December, you will be able to enjoy a five minute digital mapping projection on the side of International House, Dover Place, celebrating Ashford’s rich heritage and history with a festive twist. Watch in wonder as the building transforms before your eyes, falling away and reappearing in a kaleidoscope of imagery.

The newly-opened Coachworks in Dover Place will be serving up a range of food and drink, working with Rebel Farmer to provide tasty, local and sustainable food, and there will be a small market of local traders. The shows will be at 4.30, 5.30 and 6.30pm. The car park at Dover Place will be closed for viewers to watch safely.

For two nights only, on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December you can experience Ashford’s enchanting and magical Winter Forest, made up of a trail of illuminated trees dotted around the town centre and Elwick Place. The trees are Ashford-themed, showcasing the town’s rich history, famous landmarks, and illustrious residents for a striking installation that evokes a wintery woodland walk.

The following weekend, on Saturday 14 December, you can enjoy the Carnival of the Baubles. Starting at Elwick Place from 5.30pm, a procession of giant, illuminated baubles, decorated by children from six Ashford primary schools will make its way down Bank Street to the Lower High Street, where it will all end with a bang. There will be a night market selling hot food and drink, making it the perfect family evening.

Anyone who wants to get involved with Illuminites can drop in to the Illumination Station which gives you the opportunity to decorate your very own Christmas bauble. These will be hung from one of the trees in the Winter Forest, contributing your artwork to this incredible installation. For more information on dates and location for the Illumination Station, visit Loveashford online.

The Illuminites events have been organised by Ashford Borough Council and Loveashford, in partnership with Emergency Exit Arts, We Make Stuff Happen, LM Productions, and supported by local Ashford businesses.

Emergency Exit Arts, We Make Stuff Happen and LM Productions have all worked on huge prestigious national and international projects individually before, including Universal Studios Florida, the Lord Mayor’s Show and the Regent Street Christmas lights switch on, but never on a joint series of events like this.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “We are quite excited to be hosting these events in Ashford. We have not had these companies come together in a series like this. We very much look forward to seeing lots of people in the town centre to start our Christmas celebrations. These events should showcase Ashford borough at its best, and I hope everyone attending will feel pleased to be part of it.”

Fraser MacAndrew and JD Bracknell of We Make Stuff Happen, said: “We Make Stuff Happen is thrilled to be working with Ashford Borough Council on Illuminites. The area’s rich history and heritage has provided lots of inspiration for the Winter Forest and the result will be a celebration of Ashford’s cultural contribution. We’re looking forward to lighting up the town for residents and sharing some festive spirit.”

The Creative Department of LM Productions said: “We are delighted to be working with Ashford Borough Council on this Illuminites project, to bring new and exciting experiences to the Ashford Community.”

Amaya Dent, Creative Producer at Emergency Exit Arts, said: “Emergency Exit Arts is one of the leading lights in outdoor arts and has been producing celebrations at the heart of communities for 40 years. We are currently delivering an exciting two year programme of cultural events in Ashford. We are delighted to be bringing the Carnival of the Baubles to the town centre. We hope that lots of people get involved with the lantern making workshops to join in this fantastic occasion.”

Times and dates:

Ashford’s Winter Forest – 3pm-8pm Friday 6 December and 12-8pm Saturday 7 December, Elwick Place and Ashford town centre.

Glow International – Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December, 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm, International House

Carnival of the Baubles – Saturday 14 December, from 5.30pm, Elwick Place to the Lower High Street

As part of these exciting events, it will be necessary to close Dover Place car park from 2am on Friday 6 December until 11pm on Saturday 7 December. Alternative pay and display spaces are available at Elwick Road car park, and any season ticket holders or permit holders will be contacted about alternative arrangements.

Dover Road will also be closed to ensure the safety of visitors to Glow International from 3pm-7.30pm on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December. Diversion signs will be in place round Tannery Lane. Ashford Borough Council apologises for the inconvenience, disruption will be kept to a minimum.

During March and April 2018 Ashford Borough Council undertook a residents’ survey which revealed residents would like more entertainment and events in the town centre, highlighting the need for a better evening offer. The engaging and vibrant events planned over the next two years will celebrate the borough’s heritage and history, boost night time economy and help create civic pride in the borough.