Harleston is establishing a reputation for vibrant street markets featuring local produce, crafts and gifts, complimented by delicious street food and entertainment, themed trails and window display competitions. This winter is no different and on Saturday 3rd December the town will have a day of festive activities for all the family.

A colourful Street Market, from 9.30am onwards, will fill the Market Place with gazebos decked with lights and decorations selling crafts and hand-made gifts, delicious cakes and Christmas puds, Christmas garlands and wreaths, and lots of delicious street food. At St John’s Church in Broad Street there will be a Church Bazaar with additional craft and gift stalls (10am – 4pm), whilst Father Christmas and some of his elves will be in residence in Santa’s Grotto at Harleston Information Plus in the afternoon.

Entertainment during the day will include Victorian gent Nathaniel Howell on his fantastic penny farthing bicycle, carol singers and Park Radio DJs. From 3pm The Thoroughfare and Church Street will be closed to traffic so that everyone can throng into town to enjoy more community stalls, children’s rides and street entertainment before the lights are switched on shortly after 5.00pm.

A highlight will be the appearance of two sides of black-faced Molly Men at 4.30pm, who will perform rustic dances that have their roots in ancient traditions. The famous Suffolk-based Old Glory Molly Dancers will meet with The Witchmen, a renowned Welsh Border Morris side, to create a memorable spectacle.

The Molly Men originate from a time when farm labourers were laid off over the winter and to raise money for food would visit local landowners to perform and demand money with menaces – hence the disguised faces. The Molly Men, led by a ‘molly’, dressed in women’s clothing, and a ‘lord’, stamp and swing whilst their musicians, decked out with crowns of holly and ivy, play traditional instruments such as melodeon, concertina, recorder, drums and “tea-chest” bass.

The darkness will be dispelled by the switching on of the Christmas tree lights in the Market Place and throughout town by Harleston’s own local hero, Carol Wiles MBE .

There will be time to browse around the market and enjoy the stalls until 5.30pm, when it will be time for everyone to go home and look forward to Christmas.

The event is supported by South Norfolk Council’s Market Towns Initiative and organised by Harleston’s Future team of local volunteers.

For more information contact Nicky Stainton at nmstainton@gmail.com .