Mayor Cllr Diane Taylor, accompanied by her consort and husband, Dr Andy Taylor, cut the ribbon to open the Milestones annual Christmas Market on Friday 4 December. After opening the market, the Mayor and her consort took a tour of the museum, meeting members of the Milestones team and Father Christmas along the way. Local makers and artisans were out in force, with more than 40 stalls for visitors to browse, selling everything festive from glass baubles to jewellery, candles and even make-your-own Christmas wreath kits.
Milestones, which is operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, re-opened its doors to visitors after the second lockdown ended last week. A regular fixture on the museum’s annual events calendar, the Christmas Market usually takes place over two days, but this year was extended to three, with the museum operating limited visitor numbers and continuing to implement a range of social distancing and safety measures to ensure that all visitors were able to enjoy the festive event safely.
The market was just the beginning of this year’s festivities at the living history museum, which is open daily in the lead up to Christmas, with the exception of Monday 14 and Thursday 24 December. Father Christmas will be on hand with his elves for – socially distanced – storytelling on 12, 13, 19, 20, 22 and 23 December, while festive fare including mince pies and gingerbread lattes are on the menu at the museum’s café. Younger visitors can complete a special trail to help Father Christmas find his lost reindeer, while on 21, 22 and 23 December, children can meet the animals at the museum’s outdoor Nativity scene.
Visitors will be able to take a trip back in time and experience a Victorian Christmas for the whole Christmas period until 3 January, finding out about traditions of days gone by in the museum’s decorated streets. From Sunday 27 to Thursday 31 December, Milestones will host a magical Twixmas, with a festive New Year trail, the opportunity to learn about Victorian New Year traditions and street magic at the museum every day from 11:30 – 3:30.
Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Cllr Diane Taylor said: “Andy and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Milestones to open the Christmas market. The place was filled with stalls and decorations alongside the fantastic exhibits, café and shop. Father Christmas was doing a great job telling stories to the children. For us it marked the start of the festive season.”
To help keep everyone safe, Milestones has introduced a number of measures in line with government guidance to help manage visitor numbers and ensure social distancing is maintained to protect visitors, staff and volunteers. For more information please visit https://www.milestonesmuseum.org.uk/your-visit.