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Tenterden's Narnia-themed Christmas market opens

A high street will be transformed into Narnia for the opening of a Christmas market tonight.

Tenterden's Christmas market features more than 80 artisan stalls, a funfair, free train rides on the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) and a cast of Narnia characters.

All the fun begins when 80 pupils from Tenterden schools take part in a lit procession in the high street. Wearing wolf masks and holding icicle lanterns the children will follow in the wake of the White Witch on stilts and her giant polar bears, with samba band Bloco Fogo leading the way.

Christmas market organisers Seren Welch and Natasha Mahoney with Aslan who will star in Tenterden's Narnia-themed Christmas
Christmas market organisers Seren Welch and Natasha Mahoney with Aslan who will star in Tenterden's Narnia-themed Christmas

The parade will wind its way down the high street around 4.40pm after which the children will join a short service at St Mildred's at 5pm, where Mayor of Tenterden, Cllr Pam Smith and town councillors will also be in attendance.

Around 5.20pm the focus of celebrations will move to the town hall where the mayor will bless the Christmas tree and switch on the town's lights at 5.30pm. This will be followed by carol singing and the switching-on of an artificial snow machine.

The Millennium Gardens, behind White Stuff, will be twinkling with magical lights in what organisers describe as a "mini Bedgebury" and the famous Narnia lamp-post can be discovered at the venue, along with Mr Beaver himself. A photobooth will give families the chance to have a picture taken in the illuminated gardens against an Narnia backdrop.

The Narnia lamp-post awaits adventurers in the Millennium Gardens
The Narnia lamp-post awaits adventurers in the Millennium Gardens

A whole cast of characters from the C S Lewis fantasy novel will be appearing in the town, including the White Witch, Mr Tumnus and Aslan the lion, together with polar bears and the Narnia wardrobe.

Youngsters can see Father Christmas in the Woolpack barn and enjoy fairground rides at the recreation ground.

The market itself will feature an array of more than 80 stalls selling everything from chocolate, cocktails and curries, to pancakes, pottery and personalised wooden gifts. Biddenden Vineyards, Old Dairy Brewery and Nightingale Cider are also part of the line-up of artisan producers.

One of two illuminated polar bears who will join the Narnia-themed parade
One of two illuminated polar bears who will join the Narnia-themed parade

Shops and cafes will be open late throughout the festivities and Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) is operating a shuttle service between Rolvenden and Tenterden stations on the Saturday and Sunday of the market. The shuttle service and parking is being offered for free by K&ESR and members of the public are invited to make donations.

This year, for the first time, Tenterden Town Council has recognised the Christmas Market as an official town event, awarding organisers a £2,500 grant.

Tenterden's Christmas market will be open from 3pm-9pm tomorrow; 10am-8pm on Saturday and from 10am-4pm on Sunday.

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