This year’s Leamington Lantern Parade was once again a spectacular sight and the highlight was a stunning ‘Peacock Carriage’ designed by a local schoolgirl.
Nine-year-old Rathura Kavuru won a competition, organised by the Royal Spa Centre in partnership with BID Leamington, to create the stunning focal point of the parade now in its fourth year.
As a wonderful twist, the Royal Priors Shopping Centre in Leamington Spa will once again be home to a giant peacock as the carriage which led the parade will be on display there until Christmas.
The sight of the carriage will bring back memories of the eye-catching peacock clock which once sat in front of a huge painting of Warwick Castle in the shopping centre.
Rathura’s design was brought to life during lantern making workshops hosted at the Royal Spa Centre, Family Tree and Warwickshire College’s Leamington campus in the run-up to the parade. The peacock carriage was built over three weeks by community artist Fran Godwin, from the Community Arts Workshop, and celebrates the Cinderella pantomime at the Royal Spa Centre.
Fran said: “Once again the lantern workshops and parade have proved to be incredibly creative and popular – bringing together so many people to make so many lovely lanterns! “I really enjoyed making the giant peacock carriage and hope that this is the first of many large lantern sculptures we’ll see in the parade.”
Stephanie Kerr, from BID Leamington, which organises the lantern parade, said: “Around 500 people braved the elements to join in this year’s Leamington Lantern Parade. “There was a beautiful string of lanterns of all shapes, sizes and designs surrounding the Royal Pump Rooms that then led into the town and culminated around the Tree of Lights at the Town Hall with Christmas carols, real reindeer and a stilt-waking Father Christmas. “It was yet again a fantastic community event and huge thanks to CJ Events, the local police, Warwick District Council and all the many volunteers who gave up their time to make it such a great success.”
Jo Lewis, from the Royal Spa Centre, said: “We were overwhelmed at the level of creativity and imagination that went into the entries for our lantern competition this year. “To see Rathura’s face light up when she was paraded through Leamington in her giant peacock carriage was just magical. We are already looking forward to next year’s competition for Jack & the Beanstalk.”
As shoppers start searching for that perfect Christmas gift, Leamington Spa is beginning its quest to find the town centre’s first-ever Retail Hero of The Year.
The town is already gearing up for the festivities with the Christmas lights switch-on event and the launch of this year’s award-winning Golden Ticket Prize Draw taking place on Sunday, November 16.
But while the fourth annual Golden Ticket Prize Draw will reward loyal shoppers for their custom, a new search is underway this year to recognise those on the other side of the counter for going above and beyond the call of duty in the name of customer service.
BID Leamington is organising the Retail Hero of the Year award and is now calling on business owners and managers at shopping outlets within the town centre to nominate the person they feel deserving of the title by Sunday, November 30.
Special recognition will be given to all those nominated and the overall winner will receive a prize package of Christmas goodies and be invited to join BID Leamington in awarding this year’s Golden Ticket grand prizes on Monday, December 22.
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “Leamington Spa is renowned for its fantastic mix of independent stores and major high-street names, and prides itself on brilliant customer service.
“An integral part of that offering is the commitment and enthusiasm of the town centre’s retail staff and we felt there was no better time to recognise that than during the busy festive period.
“We are looking for someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty – they might have personally helped a customer in trouble, sourced a product from the other side of the world or just been a constantly friendly face.
”While every town needs a good range of retail, the service and welcome you receive are often the things that leave a lasting impression.”
This year’s Golden Ticket Prize Draw will see 88 participating retailers offering entry with every purchase from Sunday, November 16 to Sunday, December 21.
More than 6,500 entries were received in 2013 and this year’s total prize value stands at £4,000 with top prizes including £500 to spend on jewellery from Peter Stephan Jewellers in Warwick Street, a £400 town centre shopping spree and a limited edition print from Whitewall Gallery in Regent Street.
Prizes will be awarded for every day from Monday, December 1 to Thursday, December 25. The final three will be grand prizes to be handed out on December 22.
Stephanie added: “The Golden Ticket Prize Draw has been a great success over the past three years and with our latest line-up of participating retailers and the prizes they have donated, this year looks like being the best yet.”
The town centre is open every Thursday for late night shopping in the lead up to Christmas from Thursday, November 20 to Thursday, December 18 with free parking from 6pm in the Royal Priors (P4).
A programme of events, activities and promotions aimed at showcasing all Leamington has to offer is set to take place throughout February.
The month-long Love Leam extravaganza will see Leamington play host to an array of activities and events in a bid to encourage people into the town during one of the colder and traditionally quieter months.
With love running as the central theme, each week will offer visitors a different opportunity to show their appreciation for the town.
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington which is running the Love Leam event, said: “The idea behind Love Leam is to showcase lots of different aspects of the town and help people discover new things to enjoy in a fun and light-hearted way.
“By encouraging visitors into the town centre we are looking to engage with them, help them explore the town and hopefully build that connection and loyalty that will make people want to return here time and time again.
“We are looking forward to a fantastic month of events and have lots of surprises in store.”
Beginning on Saturday, February 1, the first week will be themed Love Life in Leamington with visitors encouraged to discover new areas of the town and new things to do. This will include workshops offering introductions to knitting, crochet and knicker-making at Berylune in Park St.
The Valentine’s Day week will be headlined Love Leam week and will include a Valentine’s Day craft fair, poetry readings and wine tastings.
It will also feature the launch of the ‘Tell Us Why You Love Leam’ competition with the chance to win a red carpet day in Leamington, offering winners a luxury day out in the town centre.
The third week will be Love Family Time in Leamington with an elephant trail treasure hunt and a ‘Leamington Dream Garden’ competition among the family-friendly activities.
Love Leam Spring into Action will be the final week featuring ‘Fashion on the Move’, a showcase of the latest spring designs from the town’s retail clothing outlets with some goody bags to give away.
Event organisers are looking to add to the current programme and would welcome contact from anyone wishing to stage an event or workshop during the Love Leam month. Those interested are asked to email organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Love Leam event is funded through a combination of local businesses and money made available through Warwickshire County Council’s Operation Footfall Fund.
The Operation Footfall Fund is a key part of the County Council’s Going for Growth agenda and is open to business community groups to apply for grants to deliver a diverse range of initiatives to encourage footfall into town centre areas.
For more information about the Love Leam events, visit www.loveleamington.com.
The hugely popular Royal Leamington Spa Food and Drink Festival will be cooking up a storm when it returns to the Pump Room Gardens for a fifth successive year on the weekend of the 8th and 9th September.
The free festival, which attracted more than 20,000 visitors last year, will feature over 130 exhibitors and a great range of live entertainment and demonstrations to suit all ages.
This year there will be a Live Cookery Theatre from the Love Food Roadshow and a Kids Make & Bake Cookery School where youngsters can get down with the dough and have fun learning to make cupcakes and scones.
There will also be Cookery Masterclasses for anyone who seriously wants to brush up on their culinary skills with workshops and advice from local specialists.
For those who love their food and drink accompanied by music there will be a bandstand marathon throughout the weekend featuring talented musicians including the Sheila Fawkes Jazz Band, Gebby Eaton and Lament who bring together a fusion of Latin, Jazz and Flamenco music.
The festival is organised by BID Leamington and funded by local businesses. Stephanie Kerr, Director of BID Leamington said: “We are aiming to make this year even more colourful and full of interesting food and drink, much of it very local to Leamington Spa. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and sample the very best food, drink and entertainment that the area has to offer.”
Back by popular demand is the Taste Trail where visitors can eat at one of many restaurants in the town for just a pound. They can then rate their experience on a feedback form to stand a chance of winning a meal for two.
This year there will also be a Coffee Trail where visitors can sample a free coffee with any purchase at a participating coffee house.
For more information and your chance to win a £200 Hamper full of delicious local products please visit: www.leamingtonfoodfestival.co.uk.
Rain didn’t stop play at Leamington’s Jubilee Tea Party on Sunday. Despite the poor weather, an estimated 1,000 people visited the celebrations in the Pump Room Gardens to help mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and join in the fun activities on offer.
Leamington BID director Stephanie Kerr, who organised the Tea Party, said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to the families who braved the weather and the businesses who put on such a great day. In true British spirit, our community came out and had a great day admiring the hand-painted flags and taking part in all the activities.”
The 1.5 metre long silk flags were the colourful centre piece of the event and were decorated by local scouts, community groups and businesses. They will next be unfurled when the Olympic torch comes through Leamington Spa on 1st July.