Scotland’s fastest-growing town was transformed into a winter wonderland last weekend as part of its magical community-led Christmas celebrations.
Residents of Winchburgh and surrounding communities embraced a WinterFest celebration that included ice-skating, an enchanting Santa’s Grotto, a festive market featuring the best of local produce and craft, and a Narnia-themed walkthrough experience in Auldcathie Park. Visitors were treated to live Christmas music, snow machines, a story corner, games and meet-and-greets with Santa Claus and Mrs Claus.
Led by the Winchburgh Community Growing Group with support from Winchburgh Developments Ltd. (WDL), local housebuilders, local businesses, and a team of dedicated volunteers, Winchburgh WinterFest gave local families the opportunity to embrace the festive season right on their doorstep. On Saturday 16 December, Winchburgh Church lit up thanks to a public exhibition of 16 illuminated Christmas trees decorated by local groups and businesses.
John West, Chair of Winchburgh Community Growing Group, said: “We’ve had hundreds of people come down to the park to experience the ice rink, Narnia, and Santa’s Grotto. We’ve had Christmas events in the past, but this year’s is by far the biggest one we’ve ever held.
First on the ice was Golden Ticket winner Sean McNulty. He said: “I’ve been wanting to ice skate for a while so I was looking forward to the ice rink. I think it’s all pretty good.” Mum Rosslyn Harcus added: “Events like WinterFest represent really good growth for the community; we’re getting things in the village that we wouldn’t have got before.”
Auldcathie Park volunteer marshal Emily Gordon said: “This is normally a space for the community, with a weekly Parkrun and area for the local growing group. All the kids have had their skates on and have had a great time!”
Nicole from Philipstoun visited the Christmas Market with her husband and children. She said: “There is a lot of good local businesses and we’ve picked up some sweeties, ice cream, jewellery and teddies. We saw that there would be such a variety of things for sale and we like to support the local businesses.
WinterFest is just the latest in a series of popular Christmas events in the growing village. In late-November, a 20-foot tree donated by Hopetoun Estates and installed by I&H Brown was illuminated by Santa Claus at a community switch-on on the same weekend as a busy Christmas farmers’ market. The pupils of Winchburgh Academy then switched on the first-ever Auldcathie Park Christmas Tree to mark the coming events in the park. Santa then entertained dozens of children in his sleigh around the village and attended the church Christmas tree festival before leading a procession through the village giving out hundreds of selection boxes to excited children who had ventured through Narnia’s before ending up in Santa’s grotto.
“It has been incredible to see the community-led Christmas celebrations in Winchburgh grow in size and quality every year,” explained Penny Lochhead, Community, Sports and Greenspace Manager for WDL. “What makes it even more special is that all the events are subsidised and run by amazing volunteers, meaning they are free to families in the local community. It’s so important that they’re accessible to everybody so that the whole community can come together to celebrate the festive season. To see the whole village of businesses, contractors and housebuilders all give their time and funding to create such an amazing day was incredible to see and experience for so many at this time of year.”