Festival de Noel returns with top produce, crafts and music

Braemar’s annual Festival de Noel is back this weekend, with a packed three days of music, crafts, family events for all ages, music and horse-drawn carriage rides to get everyone geed up for Christmas.
Braemar's Festival de Noel returns this weekend.Braemar's Festival de Noel returns this weekend.
Braemar's Festival de Noel returns this weekend.

Now in its third year, the festival kicks off with mulled wine and canapés by the fireside in Braemar’s 5-star Fife Arms Hotel, followed by the Festival Dinner pop-up by head chef Marcus Sherry and the team from Fish Shop Ballater, taking place in Braemar’s Highland Games Centre.

Saturday 9th sees a packed programme of workshops in various venues throughout the village of Braemar, including wreath making by Coo Hill Studios, a weaving workshop with Arra Textiles and even Soundbath meditation sessions to help people destress in the pre-Christmas period.

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From 4-6pm, St Margaret’s becomes the focal point, with food vans, mulled wine and fire pits — with a hog roast by Crathie’s Balnault Farm and woodfired pizzas from Auld Smokey’s.

Tickets are on sale now for the Celebration of Christmas Concert in St Margaret’s from 6-8pm, with a 10-strong ensemble from Bon Accord Brass, Aberdeen University Chamber Choir, Nadine Ralston on the harp — joined by some young performers from Braemar Primary School.

On Sunday 10th, visitors can take their pick from three fabulous markets taking place across the village — and can be transported between them by horse-drawn carriage.

Stock up for Christmas at the Ghillie’s Larder food market at St Margaret’s, taking place from 10am until 3pm.

The ‘Crafty Ghillie’ market in Braemar’s Village Hall will offer bespoke festive gifts and stocking-fillers.

At the Ghillie’s Tipple, in the Highland Game Pavilion, you’ll find everything from whisky, wine, local gin and some festive specialities for the drinks cabinet to ensure plenty of Christmas cheer over the weeks ahead.

While the grown ups do the shopping, kids get their orders in to Santa Claus at his fireside grotto next door.

The Ballater Pipe Band will bring a fantastic festive weekend to a close outside St Margaret’s at 4pm on Sunday, while festival-goers retiring to Farquharson’s bar later in the evening for a special Christmas quiz.

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Commenting, Festival Organiser Colin Hunter said: “Back once again, Braemar’s Festival de Noel promises a wonderful wintery weekend among the snowy peaks of the Cairngorms.

“There are still a handful of tickets left for Friday night’s Festival Dinner by the Fish Shop team — Aberdeenshire’s latest addition to the Michelin guide.

“On Saturday, we’ve got an amazing array of craft workshops and a charity Jingle Bell Jaunt in aid of local good causes.

“You won’t want to miss Saturday’s Celebration of Christmas concert which is guaranteed to get you in the mood for the festive season — with mulled wine, opportunities for a pre-concert bite to eat, before you sing along to your favourite songs and carols.

“Sunday’s three markets are like no Christmas shopping experience you’ll find anywhere else — craft, food and drink markets in three different locations and a horse and carriage on hand to whisk you between them!

“For the kids, and the young at heart, we’ll have an extra special visit from Santa on Sunday afternoon — with songs and Santa’s grotto by the fireside.

“Rounding up a great Highland Christmas Celebration, the Ballater Pipe Band will perform a festival finale as the sun sets on Sunday afternoon.”

Festival de Noel takes place in Braemar from this Friday 7th December to Sunday 9th December.

The full weekend programme and tickets for the dinner, workshops and concert are available at www.stmargaretsbraemar.org.uk/our-events

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