Trimming up at the model Norfolk village that has never celebrated Christmas
PUBLISHED: 16:30 27 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 11 October 2017
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013
Christmas is coming to a small Norfolk community for the first time in almost 60 years.
Since Merrivale Model Village was built in 1961 its inhabitants have never celebrated the season, only ever seeing summers.
But this year its houses and hospitals, churches and train stations are set to find themselves in a magical winter wonderland lit by thousands of twinkly lights.
This week the village’s new owners Frank and Frances Newsome who took over in July were busy trying to work out the best way to fit a synthetic ice-skating rink into the courtyard while unpacking boxes of festive delights.
Mrs Newsome, a self-confessed fan of all things Christmas, said she had already spent tens of thousands on lights and festive figures - and that that was just the start.
She said: “When we visited the gardens for the first time when they were for sale my first thought was ‘I have to buy it because I love it’ and my second was ‘it would look lovely at Christmas.’
“We are trying to make it an experience rather than just going to a store to visit Santa and it is something we will be building up, but it will take four or five years to get there.”
MORE: Owner to sell Great Yarmouth’s Merrivale Model Village to the “right people” only
To make sure as many local people as possible know about their Christmas plans as well as their themed Halloween opening and spooky gnome trail, admission has been set at £1 per person next weekend October 7 and 8.
Making the most of the village and opening at different times of the year was part of the couple’s drive to open up the attraction to more people and offer locals an alternative especially during the festive season when families were looking for something extra special and had been waiting all year.
Mrs Newsome said they were keen to keep prices down out of season, and that people turning up in fancy dress could get in for half price.
More: Frank and Frances Newsome take over at Merrivale Model Village in Great Yarmouth
Although traditionally the village had closed in October, gardeners were on site all year keeping on top of all there was to do.
The Buckingham Palace display will make way for Santa who will be in his living room beside a flickering fire amid a winter scene, she added.
Halloween activities will last around 11 days, while the Christmas event runs for some seven weeks until December 30.
There is no booking system, just pay on the day.