As well as offering a magical lit experience for visitors, Sidmouth’s first ever illuminated trail Connaught@Christmas is also providing a festive boost for local traders.
Over 30 stalls will be selling 75 different varieties of crafts, food and drink at the event's Food & Craft Village in Manor Road car park, with over a third run by established market traders and retailers from the town itself.
Sidmouth-based craft and food traders include Willow Studio, Libra Court Collective, Farmer Larry’s handmade sheepskin products, Devon Flower Co, Angelchops, Ebb Tides, Sidmouth Gin, Something Lovely, Kyle Baker Photography and Sugarsnap Design.
John Hammond who runs The Dairy Shop on Church Street and the award-winning Sidmouth Distillery, said: “It’s great to have so many local traders involved with the Connaught at Christmas event - we hope that it puts Sidmouth on the map as a ‘Christmas day-out' destination.
“Being just a short walk from the town centre means visitors will also be drawn to visit some of Sidmouth’s shops and cafes while they are here.”
Meanwhile several of the street food stalls also hail from Sidmouth; Buono Pizza, Off Road Café, Westcountry Dimsum - and Van Vino which will be serving mulled wine from a converted tuktuk. And there’s a strong West Country flavour overall, with the rest of the traders coming from the wider Devon region, plus two ‘incomers’ - one from Cornwall and the other from Dorset.
After a difficult year for many, this opportunity to sell at a brand new market during the busiest time of year has been much welcomed with open arms.
Lydia Baker from Willow Photographic Studio agrees. “We’re looking forward to being part of the Village. It’s so good that organisers are supporting local businesses, giving them new and extra opportunities to trade after all the Covid disruptions.
“The event is going to be a real asset to the town and will help raise Sidmouth’s profile by bringing people in from the surrounding areas.”
Many of the traders have contributed prizes for a hamper being raffled to raise funds for the event’s charity partnership with Sidmouth Primary School and Sidmouth College, helping disadvantaged pupils to pursue opportunities in art and music. The winner will enjoy a cornucopia of gifts including silver earrings, a goodie box for dogs, cards, a driftwood Christmas tree, Sidmouth wall hanging, and vouchers for food. Tickets can be purchased from the information tent at the event.
Connaught@Christmas runs from December 7 to 12. The bookable illuminated gardens are open from 4.30 to 9.30pm daily and the Food & Craft Village opens at 1pm. For more information please visit connaught-at-christmas.co.uk