Forget the frosty forests of Narnia, this winter wonderland has a much warmer welcome…
Our social calendars always tend to fill up over the months of November and December; stuffed with firework nights, festive film marathons (it isn’t truly Christmas til Elf pops back up on our TV screens), work parties, and evenings drinking mulled wine under fluffy white blankets. But if you’re stuck for time you might be able to cram a couple of things on your seasonal to-do list into one wondrous day. Winter Island, presented by Escape to Freight Island at Depot Mayfield, is set to kick off from November 5th until the end of the year. The winter wonderland will have no shortage of festive entertainment to keep you busy over the next two months and it’s the perfect excuse for a weekend getaway. We’ve got the lowdown especially for you…
1. Firework Display
Dig out your woolly hat and layer up. When the seasonal chill sets in and the nights grow longer this festive utopia will debut with a bang. On November 5th a dazzling firework display will be lighting up the sky above Depot Mayfield, inviting in the crowds to get their first taste of what’s on offer at Winter Island.
2. Delicious Food And Drink
I don’t know about you, but when the colder months start to creep up on us and the first note of Jingle Bells rings out on the radio, I get a craving for some warm, stodgy, comfort food. It may be an inkling of hibernation instincts coming through but there is something about a hearty meal on a chilly day that hits the spot. Winter Island obviously agree, because they have lined up an irresistible array of food stalls to tuck into, including Great North Pie Co., a bratwurst grill, traditional hog roast, a local chocolatier and an artisanal cheese stall (to name a few). To wash down these stomach-rumbling delights and get a festive buzz going, follow the scent of woody spice and zesty apple to the mulled wine and hot cider hut.
3. Bottomless Champagne Brunch
If you’re feeling in the mood for something fancy with your friends, there will be champagne brunches every Saturday and Sunday over the course of the two months. Taking place from 10am to 1pm each day, you can gear up for the dreaded Christmas shop by sipping unlimited bubbles and listening to a variety of live music. This is the perfect prelude to a day of festivities or simply a way to draw out some pressie ideas while you’re friends are a bit more loose-lipped than usual.
4. Christmas Tree Forest
What says winter wonderland more than a forest of bushy pine trees with branches bowed under lashings of snow? To help transform Escape to Freight Island into a magical winter setting there will be a 45-foot Christmas Tree Forest sprouting up inside the venue. The giant evergreens will be ideal for transporting guests to the enchanting wilderness of Lapland – just without the expensive flights and potential frostbite.
5. The Untold Orchestra
Freight Island’s resident musical ensemble The Untold Orchestra will be back to bless your ears every Wednesday. The modern-day orchestra will performing a series of Christmas specials live, providing a fantastically festive soundtrack to your mid-week outing. Swing by, grab some mulled wine and settle in for a listen under the stars.
6. Amuse Bouche
Homobloc and Escape to Freight Island had experience getting the party started this summer with Amuse Bouche, a night of drag, DJs and dining that delighted drinkers and dancers every Sunday (too much alliteration?). The fabulous eleganza extravaganza will be returning to Winter Island, injecting some heat into November 7th with a queer cabaret of popular queens and pumping DJ sets.
7. Comedy Nights
If your Monday blues tend to last well into the following day then Winter Island have the perfect remedy to cheer you up. A comedy night is set to entertain the masses every Tuesday, introducing a whole host of brilliant comedians who are sure to make you at the very least crack a smile or two – and at the most have you fall out your seat in hysterics – as the worries of work melt away.
8. Live Karaoke
It’s time to go on vocal rest. If you want your pipes to be in prime working order by the time November 20th comes around then you better get practicing now. Winter Island will be letting you take centre stage with two live karaoke, aka ‘Masseoke’ events, one in November and one on December 18th. Make sure to rope in your friends and family if you want some moral support and a personal cheering section.
9. Craig Charles DJ Sets
The star of Red Dwarf and host of The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show is bringing his musical talents to Depot Mayfield on November 28th and December 12th. The twinkling event space will be serenaded with all manner of catchy tracks from Charles’ repertoire, sure to fill the dance floor in a matter of minutes.
Those are just a few of the excellent events that will be cropping up throughout Winter Island’s festive reign, also on the agenda are sure-to-be-sensational shows from Guilty Pleasures, snuggle-worthy movie nights, family-friendly raves with The Playhouse Project and some creative Christmas workshops to get stuck into. Make sure to keep an eye out on the official site for any upcoming happenings.
Escape to Freight Island can be found at 11 Baring Street, M1 2PZ and is open daily from 3pm Monday-Thursday, 12 noon Fridays, and from 10am on weekends. Walk-ins are available day-to-day, however, be sure to book to avoid disappointment.