Kicking off the festive season in Braemar
Braemar will be kicking off the festive period in style next weekend with the launch of the Festival de Noël.
The winter festival features a packed programme of events taking place in the Deeside village from December 10-12.
It promises to be a great weekend of music, food and drink, crafts and even fireworks, and offers a unique Christmas shopping experience.
The weekend’s festivities get under with a retro Christmas disco and buffet dinner at the Highland Games Centre on the Friday.
Saturday will see festive food and drink at St Margaret’s Braemar with revellers able to enjoy mulled wine and a hog roast outside the venue.
The venue will play host to the popular Ghillie’s Larder – Braemar’s Farmers’ Market – from 10am until 4pm on the Sunday with a fabulous line-up of local producers, while carol singers, a brass ensemble, organ music and pipers piping will serenade shoppers as they enjoy the village’s Christmas craft, food and drinks markets.
Showcasing the very best of artisan drinks from the local area the ‘Ghillie’s Tipple’ market will take place on the Sunday at the Highland Games Centre.
Why not grab the perfect Christmas gift from Huntly’s Outlaw Rum, Cairngorm Pinewood Gin, Highland Boundary spirits from Angus or Royal Lochnagar whisky or stock up for the festive season from Tarland’s Twisted Ankle brewery, Maryculter’s sparkling apple ‘Seidear’, Valentian Vermouth from the Borders or wines from the Green Inn Ballater?
With three market venues in use on the Sunday – St Margaret’s for food, Braemar Village Hall for crafts and the Highland Games Centre for drinks – there will be a horse-drawn carriage to transport visitors through the village in style as they go about their Christmas shopping.
Short carriage rides between the venues will be available for free throughout the day from 10am to 3.30pm.
Jasmine Bowles of the Ghillie’s Larder, one of organising partners of the Festival, said: "What better excuse to eat, drink and be merry with family and friends in the days leading up to Christmas.
“We’ve got a sensational line-up of entertainment for all ages, plus the very best food and drink that Scotland has to offer – all within walking distance in the one village.
“Our Ghillie’s Larder Farmers’ Market will have amazing locally sourced produce.
“After a tough old year, everyone will be in the mood to enjoy themselves.”
On the Saturday evening, the Celebration of Christmas concert will take place in St Margaret’s featuring carols and favourite Christmas songs performed by local choirs and a brass band.
The sensational Aberdeen University Chamber Choir – who have performed for Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace – has been named as the headline act.
The 6pm concert, hosted by singer and broadcaster Fiona Kennedy OBE, will also feature music from Albyn School Vocal Ensemble and local Mercury Brass band - performing a varied programme of Christmas favourites and contemporary arrangements.
St Margaret’s will be decked with boughs of holly and yuletide decorations – the perfect candlelit surroundings for an event guaranteed to get the audience in the mood for Christmas.
The concert forms the musical centrepiece of the three day festival.
Lyndsey Boden of St Margaret’s Braemar said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming the Aberdeen University Chamber Choir to perform at Braemar’s first Festival de Noël.
“They’re a sensational choir to hear live, and the intimate surroundings and brilliant acoustics of St Margaret’s will make for a magical evening’s entertainment.
“Our Celebration of Christmas Concert is set to be a highlight of the weekend – featuring singers from Albyn School and Aberdeenshire’s Mercury Brass ensemble – all hosted by Fiona Kennedy.
“Sunday’s market will offer a unique Christmas shopping experience throughout the village, accompanied by carol singers, a brass band and pipers piping!”
The Festival de Noël celebrations will wrap up on Sunday evening, with chestnuts roasting on an open fire, a glass of bubbly and s’mores for the kids and the young at heart at St Margaret’s – followed by a fireworks display.
St Margaret’s Trustee Colin Hunter said: “Where better to kick off festive celebrations this winter than among the snow capped peaks of the Cairngorms?
“Braemar’s new Festival de Noël has everything to get you in the Christmas spirit – music, crafts, the best local produce and even the opportunity to let you hair down, with plenty of mulled wine on offer!
“While getting away to the Alps this winter might still be tricky, we’re bringing the Alpine experience to Deeside instead!
“Why not make a weekend of it — come for the festivities, do your Christmas shopping in Braemar free from the hassle of venturing downtown in December or simply enjoy some highland hospitality by the fireside after exploring this beautiful corner of Scotland.”
All the info you need can be found at www.stmargaretsbraemar.org.uk