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The Reader at Calderstones reveals its festive programme

The Reader is inviting visitors young and old to gather at its home in Calderstones Park this Christmas as it launches its 2023 festive programme and fundraising appeal. 

The season begins on Friday 24 November and promises a month-long celebration, including Step into Stories on Sunday 3 December – a day of festive activities in the Mansion House where visitors will be able to add a decoration to the community Christmas tree, create their own wrapping paper, attend a literary tour of the Mansion House and pick up a beautiful new book in exchange for a donation.  

The Reader at Calderstones reveals its festive programme
Anastassiya Bezhekeneva / Shutterstock.com

The event – which is made possible thanks to the generosity of publishers Walker Books and Penguin Random House – is part of a wider programme of exciting seasonal events and activities at Calderstones that includes reading, wellbeing, crafts and fun. 

The Reader charity, which uses the power of literature and reading aloud to transform lives across the UK, is also calling for donations to help it reach a £10,000 festive fundraising target that will support the First Page project, its work reading with children and their families across the Liverpool City Region. 


Children and families 

From Saturday 25 November – Saturday 23 December, the Storybarn team will be bringing a new self-led story trail to the park for families with young children. 

This year, the outdoor story trail is based on Haiwyn Oram’s A Message for Santa, a story about a little girl who isn’t looking forward to Santa’s visit. A copy of the book featuring beautiful illustrations by Tony Ross (The Little Princess, Horrid Henry and many more) is included with every family ticket. 

Over in the Storybarn, all sessions running from Saturday 25 November until Saturday 23 December will have a festive feel. There will be seasonal storytelling, rhymes and songs for little ones aged 1-4 at Incy Wincy Rhymers, alongside classic carols, Christmas stories and crafts to take home for children aged 4-9 in at Christmas at the Storybarn

December also sees Santa’s helpers moving into the Mansion House for a limited time only as the elves bring playful good cheer and silly storytelling to The Old Café at Cosy Tales with Elves on 3, 17 and 23 December.  

Wellbeing and crafts  

As the winter days get shorter and the festive season approaches, An Afternoon of Wellbeing on Saturday 9 December offers a welcome chance for nourishment and relaxationReaders are invited to restore a sense of wellbeing with a relaxed Shared Reading session featuring poems from the Emily Dickinson anthology Hope is the Thing with Feathers, and a restorative walk around the park led by a member of staff. 

Those interested in local history can take part in free Hidden Heritage guided walks on 9, 12 and 23 December to discover the stories of Christmas past at Calderstones.  

There’s also a chance to get creative in Festive Make – a free, drop-in craft session for families that takes place on Sunday 10 December alongside the popular Makers Market when local independent traders return to the Mansion for some thoughtful Christmas shopping.  

On Sunday 3 December, South Liverpool florist, Booker Flowers and Gifts, will be hosting Foraged Wreath Workshopswhere Master Florist Fleur will be sharing the secret of how to create a Christmas door wreath with wow factor. 

While throughout December, free ‘Make your own pine cone Christmas tree’ craft packs will be available to collect from the welcome area in the Mansion House as The Reader celebrates the launch of its new ‘Trees Around the World’ interactive park map. 

Food and Drink

The Ice Cream Parlour at Calderstones and The Reader Café will be serving up seasonal food and drinks throughout the winter period while the Mansion House will be playing host to Christmas Parties on selected dates throughout December, bookings open now.  

Jemma Guerrier, The Reader’s Managing Director said: 

“It would be wonderful if people from all over the city region could put a visit to Calderstones on their Christmas list this year and hopefully the varied programme of events gives everyone an opportunity to do just that. 

“2023 has been a tough year for many and The Reader is grateful to everyone who’s supported us – whether that’s coming along to events, buying a drink from the Café or making a donation. It’s thanks to your kind support that we can continue to reach those most in need.”

Thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, residents of L15 (Wavertree), L19 (Garston) and L24 (Speke) who are likely to experience barriers to accessing arts and culture can receive free tickets to selected events by joining The Reader’s Front Door Key scheme. Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

For all ticket bookings visit the website here.


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