Published: 10:31, 22 November 2019
| Updated: 10:31, 22 November 2019
A Christmas parade themed to The Nutcracker ballet will herald the opening of the biggest-ever festive market in Tenterden.
The high street will be filled with colour and sound as larger-than-life characters from the tale set to Tchaikovsky's famous score, including the mouse king, magician, nutcracker and sugar plum fairy, wend their way past shops and businesses.
All the fun begins today as the light parade takes place from 4.45 to 5.15pm, setting off from the junior school in Recreation Ground Road, when pupils from Tenterden district primary schools will join the procession wearing mouse masks and soldiers' hats they have made for the occasion.
Brookes Academy pupils are also set to dazzle with a routine that involves dancing with giant sweets.
There will be a brief road closure from Recreation Ground Road to Station Road to allow the parade to pass by.
At 5pm the parade will stop at Tenterden town hall for the Christmas lights switch-on by mayor Cllr Jean Curteis, followed by the blessing of the town's Christmas tree by Rev Canon Lindsay Hammond and a service at St Mildred's Church, beginning at 5.15pm.
Attractions include a snow machine, which will give Tenterden a light dusting of the white stuff and there will be a variety of pop art installations to admire.
Other entertainment includes performances by The Rockits choir and from guitarist Jonny Hepbin, plus saxophonist Amy Francis, while Tenterden Academy for Performing Arts members will be showcasing their skills.
A sensory light garden has been created outside St Mildred's by Year 6 primary school pupils who were inspired by a visit to Kew Gardens where American glass artist Dale Chihuly's work is on display.
The children have designed their installation using recycled plastic bottles that have been given to them by townspeople.
Father Christmas will be listening to present requests in his St Mildred's Church grotto over the weekend, where there will also be the opportunity to get a festive family photograph taken by professional photographer Charlotte Walters.
Stretching the length of the high street the market which feature a family fun area from Tenterden Garden Centre, face-painting, a craft bus, stained glass work, jewellery and pottery. Food and drink stalls will be selling pizza, Thai food and marshmallows among a variety of goodies, while there will be a mobile cocktail bar and Old Dairy Brewery, Wise Owl and Nightingale Cider stands.
The Christmas market has been organised by Natasha Mahoney and Seren Welch: Natasha said: "Over the past 12 months we have been overwhelmed by the quality and sheer number of business wanting to be involved in the event. Although we are now one of the largest free Christmas weekend events in the county, creating a community atmosphere, a great welcome for visitors and the perfect platform for local producers and makers remains absolutely at the heart of the event."
Seren added: "The Christmas market creates the perfect opportunity to showcase our town, and hopefully encourage visitors to return over the coming months. We continually listen to local business and residents so that events like this can bring both economic and community benefits and above all kick start the Christmas festivities."
Tenterden Christmas market 2019 begins today from 3pm to 9pm; Saturday, November 23 from 10am to 8pm and Sunday, November 24 from 10am to 4pm.
Visit @christmasintenterden on Facebook or Instagram for updates regarding parking and events.
More by this authorRachael Woods