Prestbury - Christmas in Cheshire's Golden Triangle
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:12 22 February 2018
Christmas is alive in Prestbury thanks to big-hearted locals, writes Emma Mayoh
‘It’s one of my favourite times,’ says Reverend Patrick Angier, vicar of St Peter’s Church in Prestbury. ‘The doors of the church will swing open at around 1am on Christmas morning and churchgoers will go into the crisp, night air and Christmas Day will have arrived. It’s a very special moment.’
Reverend Angier, who has called Prestbury home for the past ten years, paints an idyllic picture of how the village marks the festive season. And rightly so. But Midnight Mass is just one of the occasions St Peter’s plays an important role in.
From October, preparations are being made to ensure Christmas is a magical time for the Prestbury community. Starting with the Christingle Service in early December, the church is host to a number of events, some of them at the multi-million pound St Peter’s Room, a new church building and community facility recently built on the side of the historic church. It is the hub of the village.
One of the most popular times is Christmas Eve when there are carols around the crib. Up to 800 people attend. The event became so popular, it had to be split into two different times.
‘Christmas Eve here is awesome,’ said Reverend Angier. ‘And the carols around the crib is truly special. There’s a wonderful community feel to it. It’s a really poignant moment, it is just lovely.
‘We’re very lucky to have such a large congregation. We’re full every week. But at Christmas time, as people come back home to visit family, it gets even busier. Everyone works really hard to make it a special time from decorating the church, to sorting out the hundreds of oranges for the children for Christingle. It is truly wonderful.’
St Peter’s was also involved in helping set up the Prestbury Christmas street party, which also takes place in December. It is a time for all of the local businesses to open their doors while visitors spill out onto the streets.
The fair is also a good occasion for the Prestbury Youth Pantomime Association to promote their annual show, which takes place each January. The organisation, for 11-17 year-olds plays a big role locally with young people clamouring for an opportunity to be involved.
As well as being a valued event in the community, with rehearsals taking place at Prestbury School, it gives young people valuable experience of what it is like to perform on stage.
The shows take place at Macclesfield Amateur Dramatic Society Little Theatre. This January’s show is Puss in Boots. Each panto costs more than £12,000 to stage and money is raised through fundraising events, ticket sales and local businesses.
The young people are mentored by adult volunteers who have industry experience, including musical director, Ben Beer, who has worked in musical theatre as well as touring with Elton John, Kaiser Chiefs and Keane. He now teaches at Manchester Grammar and Fallibroome Academy.
But it is the youngsters who are the stars of the show and take the lead with the production. This year 18-year-old Megan Smith and 16-year-old Verity Partington are choreographing the production and 17-year-old Oli Chiltern will be sound director.
Iain Macleod, chairman, said: ‘It really is all about the young people. There is such a great atmosphere and they have a lot of fun doing it. It’s always really busy for them because we have to carry on rehearsals over Christmas.
‘But they get a lot out of it. They get that real live theatre experience. And it’s not just about being on stage, it’s about all the work that goes on behind the scenes too.
‘We’re lucky to have so many young people who want to be involved. Hundreds of people come to see the shows. The Prestbury community is a huge support and has been since the association was first set up in 1980. We have huge talent here in the village.’
Where is it? Prestbury is a village located in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, near to Wilmslow and Alderley Edge. Type SK10 4DG in your sat nav to get there.
Where can you park? There is on-street parking in Prestbury village as well as car parks at both ends of the village at Shirleys and Springfields.
Where can you eat? For a fairly small village, there are plenty of places to choose from to eat out. Try Coast if you love Italian food, as the menus are inspired by food served on the Amalfi Coast. The Chocolate Box, which not only has amazing afternoon teas and cakes, they also have popular themed nights serving Middle Eastern food.
What to do? Get tickets or more information for the Prestbury Youth Pantomime by visiting www.prestburypanto.org.