Soak up the Dickensian atmosphere at Christmas tradition in Kelham Island

editorial image

A warm Dickensian welcome awaits visitors to Kelham Island Museum’s 25th annual Victorian Christmas Market.

This popular market returns on Saturday and Sunday December 2-3 when visitors are invited to soak up the atmosphere of a traditional Dickensian Christmas as they gather under atmospheric gas lamps and wander cobbled streets to enjoy over 130 bustling market stalls, festive entertainment and warming food and drinks.

From its humble beginnings as a community market in the early 1990s, the event has grown significantly and welcomes around 14,500 visitors over a two-day period.

The market is unique in that, in keeping with the ethos of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, emphasis is placed on; local ‘Sheffield, Made’ and handmade goods, the promotion of traditional crafts and skills, and the talents of local makers, artisans and performers.

The Victorian Christmas Market originated 25 years ago when a festive market took place at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet and Kelham Island Museum, both venues are part of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust (SIMT). At Kelham Island Museum, the market continued to grow successfully year on year, attracting up to 10,000 visitors by 2006 and was developed and overseen by SIMT employees of the time Robin Fielder (education officer), followed by Martin Jones (compliance manager) under chief executive, John Hamshere. It was Robin Fielder who introduced the Victorian theme due to its appeal to schools involved with the museum at the time.

Following the closure of the museum due to Sheffield Floods in June 2007, SIMT staff worked against the odds to ensure a market took place that winter. The event formed part of a consultation programme with the people of Sheffield to see how they envisaged the museum redeveloping following the devastating flood damage to the museum buildings and collection. The museum reopened in October 2008 and the new look museum was showcased to over 8,000 visitors at the Christmas Market shortly after.

Building on the team’s remarkable success, Niki Connolly took up the new role of events and marketing manager in 2009 to deliver its 18th Victorian Christmas Market introducing the many changes that look familiar today, increasing the infrastructure of the market, number of stalls and entertainment offering around the whole of the island.

This year is the market’s 25th silver anniversary year, and to celebrate there will be two exciting twilight finale performances.

On Saturday from 6.20pm see the mesmerising ‘Mr Fox comes to Town’ fire performance, an exhilarating combination of movement, light and sound with mystical masked performers, drummers and acoustic music. Langsett Dance Orchestra will take to the stage on Sunday at 3pm to present a special set of swinging Christmas classics with special guest vocals from Niamh Kavanagh and bring a feel-good festive close to our anniversary weekend.

Don’t miss the Dickensian themed entertainment offering thrills for all ages, with a traditional fairground with ferris wheel, a Victorian Music Hall Stage with brass and silver bands, choirs and choruses, folk singers and variety acts and wandering living history Dickensian characters plus a Snow Queen on stilts and mischievous Victorian pickpockets.

Niki Connolly, events and marketing manager at Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust said: “We are celebrating our 25th Victorian Market and we want to make our silver anniversary year truly memorable for both first-time and regular visitors with two magical twilight finale performances. There is also the chance to purchase market souvenirs such as a pewter mulled wine cup which can be engraved by Wentworth Pewter for that personal gift, and a Victorian memento keepsake for children visiting Santa’s HQ Grotto.”

The event takes place on Saturday December 2 (10am-7pm) and Sunday December 3 (10am-5pm).

Admission is £6 for adults and accompanied children (U16) are free.

For more information see www.simt.co.uk facebook.com/kelhamislandmuseum or @KelhamIsland #SpottheHat