Lights, Santa, lanterns… massed bands, fresh produce and a new discount store
Tameside is ready to let its hair down for ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, and an amazing weekend awaits us all in Stalybridge and Ashton-under-Lyne. The piece de resistance is set to be Ashton-under-Lyne’s first Christmas Market, which is set to be opened in style.
* * *
Thursday 05 December: celebrate the opening of Stalybridge’s first independent butchers since 2009. J.W. Mettrick and Sons’ Stalybridge branch is set to open on Melbourne Street. Regular opening hours will be 0800 – 1700 on weekdays and 0800 – 1500 on Saturdays.
Friday 06 December: mosey on down to Ashton-under-Lyne’s new Bargain Buys store which opens at 10 o’clock. Occupying the former Marks and Spencer unit facing the open market, it offers a range of food and non-food items at discounted prices. Brought to you by the same people as Poundworld [on Staveleigh Way], it is their fourth ever store under the new Bargain Buys brand.
Saturday 07 December: celebrate Small Business Saturday in Tameside! As well as covered markets and open markets in Ashton and Hyde, the borough still has a number of established small retailers which are worth a visit. Plus a variety of new businesses which are worthy of your support. Enjoy a latte at Sorrentos on Stamford Street instead of your friendly totalitarian coffee shop outlet. Call in to Five a Day on Melbourne Street for your fruit and vegetables, then nip to the Tripe and Sandwich Shop nearby. Have breakfast at the Crown Café in Denton before stocking up on Christmas decorations at Vaughan and Lester.
If you’re still in Stalybridge, why not support the town’s Christmas Market? This is in addition to December’s Sunday Farmers’ Market. There will be mulled wine, a Hog Roast, face painting and Father Christmas. It’ll all be taking place in the Stalybridge Civic Hall and the fun begins at 0930.
Sunday 08 December: contrary to what Messrs Stelling or Hammell would say on a certain pay-TV channel, this coming Sunday will be a Super Sunday indeed. First off the mark will be Stalybridge, where December’s Farmers’ Market will take place on Armentieres Square, from 0900 – 1400.
You may wish to start your day at Stalybridge and continue to Ashton on the 236 or 348. Starting at 1500 hours will be the grand opening of Ashton Christmas Market. This will begin with a lantern parade one hour earlier, taking in a clockwise route from The Ladysmith pub on Wellington Road. This will take in Penny Meadow, Old Cross Street and Old Street, before turning right onto Warrington Street and right again onto Wellington Road, returning to The Ladysmith.
At 1645, all of Tameside’s Brass Bands will congregate in front of Ashton Town Hall, an historical moment which is not to be missed. This will precede the Christmas lights switch-on and fireworks display which is due to finish by 1830.
This Sunday will see the Christmas market open from 1500 – 2130 hours. Its thirty stalls will be set out on Market Street and Fletcher Street. As well as regular traders from the Farmers’ Markets, there will also be stalls from Tameside College, the Willow Wood Hospice and Gallery 23. There will be also be a stage for live acts (daily, ranging from choirs to brass bands), a bar, temporary toilets and fairground rides. After Sunday, the Ashton Christmas Market will be open from 1500 – 2130 hours on weekdays, 1000 – 2130 hours on Saturdays and 1000 – 1700 hours on Sundays, and last two weeks.
* * *
Normal weekday, Saturday and Sunday bus services will apply. In Ashton-under-Lyne, please allow for some disruption or diversion to any bus service which uses Penny Meadow this Sunday (whilst the lantern parade is in session). Expect heavier loadings and allow some extra time to your journey.
The new timetable for the Old Lanky line begins this coming Sunday. Thankfully, a normal Sunday service and no rail replacement buses whatsoever from Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield.
Normal Sunday service, every 12 minutes from Bury and Manchester city centre to Ashton-under-Lyne. Then every 15 minutes after 1730 hours.
* * *
Sleigh bells ring, tills are bleeping,
In the town, market’s teeming,
With so much to buy, we cannot decide,
Walking in an Ashton wonderland.
Melbourne Street, seems so lively,
Produce green, meat so tasty,
We’d had a good time, stuck here till nine,
Walking in a Staley wonderland.
(Adapted from the original Winter Wonderland)
S.V., 04 December 2013.