Christmas? In June? It sounds like a mad idea, but it’s hoped the Hebden Royd Alternative Christmas will bring some cheer to the area and show the flood-hit upper Calder Valley is back open for business.
The unprecedented deluge washed away festivities for thousands and this weekend’s event, held six months after the disaster, will be a way to say a big thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who descended on the town to help in the aftermath.
Kerry Wheelwright, of the Hebden Bridge Community Association and one of the organisers, said: “As the Calder Valley was so badly devastated, with nearly one thousand businesses flooded, hundreds of homes inundated and hundreds of families displaced, we all needed something to look forward to and this has proved just the job.”
With a little help from Santa and his elves, dozens of organisations have pulled together to reschedule Christmas Day for Saturday June 25.
A huge Christmas dinner will be served for more than 400 volunteers who helped in the aftermath of the Boxing Day flood. They have been invited back to the area to celebrate the belated Christmas.
Festive events will run in both Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd - there’ll be huge Christmas trees, a street party, brass bands, choirs, a funfair, street theatre, Christmas markets and more.
David Fletcher, resident and owner of the iconic Innovation Mill building in Hebden Bridge, said: “We live in a cracking valley and the support people gave us was wonderful, so we’d really like everyone to come back and celebrate with us.”
Here is what to expect on the day:
Mytholmroyd Gala - also with a Christmas theme - will be held on the same day with a fairground, stalls, live music and more on the playing fields next to Burnley Road.
Calder Holmes Park, Hebden Bridge, will host the Fair For Youth, where there will be stacks of activities for young people.
Holme Street, outside the Trades Club and Riverside Junior School, will be closed for a street party and the school will host the Christmas lunch for volunteers.
St George’s Square, Hebden Bridge, will be home to a huge Christmas tree where there will be brass bands playing and carol singing. The tree, along with two others, will then be replanted to aid flood alleviation efforts.
There will be Christmas-themed street theatre and artificial snow machines in various locations.
Hebden Bridge Picture House, now open after being hit by the floods, will show a free screening of the festive favourite ‘Elf’.
Lees Yard, Hebden Bridge, will host a Christmas market and the town hall terrace will be the venue for C I Adventures, which will have a small climbing wall for little ones to enjoy.
And the motorcycle groups who kept a protective eye over the town in the immediate aftermath of the floods will perform a drive-through in Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd in the early afternoon.
* Counting down to Christmas. See page six .