As Horsham gets ready for Christmas the County Times has picked its favourite features of the town, Anna Coe reports
After traders came out fighting against an advertising campaign by a rival town, the County Times has joined with the Horsham Town Centre Partnership in saying why it is such a great place to be at Christmas.
The newspaper is featuring its Top 10 round-up of what makes Horsham such a great place to shop at this time of year.
With its mix of historic features, varied markets, High Street favourites and independent shops, it has excelled in recent years by holding events which draw people to the town in a way that can only be the envy of other places of a similar size.
Horsham District Council has given the market town the tagline ‘Time Well Spent’ and it does not disappoint.
The Piazza Italia, Sparks in the Park, The Big Nibble, Broadwood Morris Day of Dance and many other have brought crowds of shoppers, traders and tourists here throughout the year.
So here is our Top 10 reasons to come to Horsham this Christmas:
History – Horsham is steeped in history.
The Horsham Society says on its website that the town is in that its name has not altered since it was first written down in a Saxon charter of 947.
The 13th century Parish Church of St Mary at the end of the Causeway, The Town Hall in Market Square and the iconic Carfax are just a few areas that give the town its special character.
Food – Love it or hate it, East Street - or Eat Street as it has become known - has an array of restaurants.
From the Michelin Star Restaurant Tristan and Bill’s to the familiar chain eateries like Strada, Wagamama’s and Nando’s, there is something for all tastes.
For something lighter during your Christmas shopping trip, the town has a varied mix of independent and chain coffee shops and cafes.
Independent retailers – Horsham boasts quirky small private businesses for every occasion including the Carmela’s Deli and Crates Carfax, La Vida clothing shop in Piries Place and many others. It is a guarantee you will find presents you won’t find anywhere else.
4Markets –Over the Christmas period the markets are better than ever.
As well as the Thursday and Saturday mixed markets, the Best of British Markets will continue every Sunday in December and every day from Thursday December 19 in the Carfax, right through to and including Christmas Eve.
Mulled wine, mince pies, and British gifts and crafts are just some of the things on offer.
Free parking – There is free parking in all town centre car parks after 4pm every Thursday until Christmas as well as on Sundays courtesy of Horsham District Council.
Parking has recently been made easier in Swan Walk Shopping Centre and the Forum car parks with the introduction of ticketless SmartPark.
Motorists simply need to remember their registration number when they pay at the centre’s kiosks.
6Horsham Park – is just a five-minute walk from the town centre and it is the perfect place to have a leisurely walk or enable the children to play after a restless shopping trip.
The Human Nature Garden is a relatively recent addition to the park and is well worth a visit and the Conservatory cafe provides the perfect setting for refreshments.
Culture – Visitors to the town can also enjoy a visit to the museum.
There is an exhibition about Paddington Bear throughout December to coincide with the release of the Paddington movie in cinemas now.
Admission is free and opening hours are Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.
8 Music – Carols and Christmas songs are being performed by community groups in different parks of the town centre in the run up to Christmas.
Today (Thursday December 11) Age UK Horsham District and friends will be carol singing while collecting donations for the charity’s work.
On Saturday December 1 from 11am the Royal British Legion will entertain shoppers and from 2pm The Act Too Arts Academy Principals Club will perform carols.
On Monday December 15, 2-2.30pm there is carol singing by St Mary’s CofE School, Horsham at the bandstandand on Thursday December 18, 6pm carol singing outside Oxfam Shop in East Street.
Saturday December 20 from 11am to 1pm Music on the Bandstand with The Windjammers and from 12noonto 5pm - Carols and fireworks on The Forum by Horsham Churches Together.
Also in the afternoon from 2pm to 4pm there will be Christmas Songs by Terra Nova in the Carfax.
Theatre – Opening tonight this year’s festive favourite in Horsham is Cinderella and runs from December 11 to January 4.
It stars Any Dream Will Do runner-up Keith Jack as Prince Charming; CBBC’s Olly Pike as Dandini, chef Rosemary Shrager as the Fairy Godmother and Zoe Adkin.
Tickets are priced £10-£19 and are available from the box office at the theatre in North Street, by calling 01403 750220 or online at www.the capitolhorsham.com
Community feel – Coming to Horsham there is one thing for certain: you will feel welcomed by the community.
Perhaps partly down to the varied town centre events, traders and shoppers are friendly and will greet anyone with a smile.
So come to Horsham for a unique shopping experience combined with great food, great entertainment and something for everyone.