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Ideas / Album / Frost Fair
The annual Frost Fair on Bankside, London

In 1564 cold weather caused the River Thames to freeze. People started to go out onto the ice, and stalls were set up selling drinks and souvenirs. Similar events took place during cold winters in 1683/4, 1739/40 and 1814. The River Thames no longer freezes - the design of the bridges allows the river to flow more quickly, and the modern buildings keep the city's temperature higher. Since 2003 the tradition of having a "Frost Fair" was revived.

In 2008 the Frost Fair (also known as the Bankside Winter Festival) was on Friday 12 - Sunday 21 December 2008 on the South Bank (near the Tate Modern; nearest Tube: Southwark, London Bridge or Blackfriars; map)
Note that there will not be a Frost Fair / Bankside Winter Festival in 2009.

In celebration of the history of the area and the fairs that took place on a frozen Thames hundred of years ago, the winter market opens with a Frost Fair-themed lantern parade on Friday 12th December 2008 at 4:30pm. With approximately 270 local school children taking part, the parade will bring to life aspects of the Frost Fair with lanterns the shape of ice-skaters, dancing bears and roasted chestnut sellers and much more. New for 2008, the lantern parade will have three strands starting at Bernie Spain Gardens, St Paul's Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral, all congregating outside Tate Modern, the general public and children will witness the assembling of a Frost Fair scene, on view for the entire length of the festival. Families will be able to download instructions on how to make your own lantern from and join the parade.

(c) Sam Scott
Lantern parade
outside Southwark Cathedral ...

... and in front of the
Globe Theatre

At 11am on Saturday 13th December there will be celebratory procession of Traditional Thames Cutters carrying Frost Fair flags on the River Thames between Southwark and Blackfriars Bridges. The Livery men will disembark at Bankside Pier and parade in full uniform. Visitors should watch the boats from the best vantage point on the Millennium Bridge.

The Barbers' Cutter
(c) Jody Kingzett

The winter market will be made up of 40-50 quality arts and crafts stalls, selling those last minute stocking fillers including handmade jewelry, fine ceramics, wooden Christmas crafts, crystals and fossil products, leather goods and other beautiful handcrafted accessories. There will also be several outlets selling festive food to keep you warm and a main bar serving mulled wine and ale.
Times of the Winter Market:
- Mon-Wed: 10am - 7pm
- Thu-Sat: 10am - 8pm
- Sun: 10am - 6pm

(c) Jody Kingzett
Stalls line the river in front of the Tate Modern

Leather goods

Hot food and drinks to keep you warm
(c) Jody Kingzett
One of the craft stalls

A series of Frost Fair guided walks focusing on Bankside's connection with the river and its rich theatrical history as London's original West End will take place during the festival:
- Saturday 13th December @ 2:30pm
- Sunday 14th December @ 10:45am
- Saturday 20th December @ 2:30pm.
They all leave from Mansion House tube, exit 1, and are run by London Walks. There is a charge of £7 or £5.

Siberian Huskies will be back to give sled rides to under 12s (£5), or you can pose with the dogs for a "Hug a Husky" photo (£4), on these dates:
- Friday 12th - Sunday 14th December
- Friday 19th - Sunday 21st December

A Siberian husky
(c) Jody Kingzett
Rides for children

You can combine a trip to the Bankside Winter Festival with a visit to some of the area's other attractions:
- Shakespeare's Globe to find out more about Shakespeare, his plays and Elizabethan London
- Take the unique opportunity of seeing the site of the Rose Theatre and book tickets to the performance of Shakespeare's poem The Rape of Lucrece.
- Pick up some original contemporary gifts direct from their creators at the Menier Gallery's Craft & Design Fair
- Tate Modern to see a range of modern art as well as an unprecedented exhibition of Mark Rothko's works including the Seagram murals
- Bankside Gallery to pick up a small artwork to take home with you from their Mini Picture Show.
- Vinopolis for a tour around the world's wine producing regions with tasters along the way
- Southwark Cathedral holds a series of Christmas concerts and carol services
- Visit Santa's Christmas Grotto or join a Christmas guided tour at the Golden Hinde
- Enjoy an alternative Christmas show with tickets to 'A Little Night Music' by Stephen Sondheim and directed by Trevor Nunn at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Tate Modern

Globe Theatre

Frost, Freezes and Fairs
Author: Ian Currie
Publisher: Frosted Earth
Date: November 1996
Frost Fairs on the Frozen Thames
Author: Nicholas Reed
Publisher: Lilburne Press
Date: November 2002

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Lincoln Christmas Market: Travel/Tours/England/Lincoln
Twelfth Night celebration on Bankside: Ideas/Album/TwelfthNight
October Plenty celebration on Bankside: Ideas/Album/OctoberPlenty
Thames Festival: Ideas/Album/ThamesFestival
Winter sports/ice skating: Life/Sport/Winter
Events in the UK in December: Ideas/Events/December

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