SWINGING lanterns in parade along the river mark the start of the Bankside Frost Fair, now in the fifth year of its modern incarnation.
The lantern parade starts on Friday 14 and, if past experience is anything to go by, it is a beautiful, evocative way to share the seasonal spirit with thousands of other Londoners.
The spirit’s flame is kept alight throughout the weekend with activities ranging from ice sculpture and a winter market to a sail-by of clippers on the river and there’s nothing as Scrooge-like as an entry fee.
Frost fairs were a regular feature of Christmas in London and many other towns and cities and 2007 is the 400th anniversary of the first bone fide Thames Frost fair, back in the days of gunpowder plots and looming revolution. There is plenty of evidence frost fairs took place long before this, though these may have been more ad-hoc in organisation and less official in status.
Bankside Frost Fair times:
Friday 14 11am – 9pm
Saturday 15 10am — 9pm
Sunday 16 10 am — 6pm