St Helena’s first Christmas by air
December is one of our favourite months on St Helena, as relatives, friends and even the whale sharks return for a summer of parades, caroling and festive events. This year visitors have arrived by both ship and plane, as the island rejoices in its first Christmas following the launch of commercial flights.
The festive season begins in earnest on St Helena during the first week of December, when Jamestown’s windows become filled with toys, tinsel and snowmen. Then come the lights dotted throughout the streets, followed by large Christmas trees along Main Street. Residents join in the lighting fun as they decorate their houses head to toe in blinking lights that can be seen for miles across the island, from district to district.
Students at the three primary schools star in nativity plays for their parents, family and friends before the schools close for the festive season, and Pilling Primary put on a Christmas Bonanza for all to enjoy.
The build up to Christmas comes in many shapes and guises, but a time-honoured tradition on St Helena sees locals flocking to the various Christmas Markets in search of that special gift. This year’s highlights included a Plantation Christmas Market, the Christmas Bazaar with New Horizon’s Youth Centre and the St Helena Tourism Christmas Market on the Bridge.
St Helena celebrates Christmas with three different parades: St Paul’s Primary Christmas Parade, Pilling Primary Festival of Lights and the Christmas Eve Parade.
The Festival of Lights is one of the largest parades on St Helena, with vehicles and floats covered in lights, and hundreds of people decorated in lights either dancing through the streets or cheering on the floats as they go by.
The Christmas Eve parade is an afternoon tradition as giant floats pass through Jamestown accompanied by many motor bikes that travel around the island in the morning bringing presents and excitement to children.
Boxing Day sports and celebrations
As Christmas passes over to Boxing Day, islanders gather in Jamestown once again for food, celebrations and good company in the Market Square.
Boxing Day is a day of sports as children enjoy races, sack races and skipping; and adults battle it out over tug-of-war. The celebrations spill over into the night when live bands provide great music and everyone dances in the square.
Boxing Day games, photo courtesy of Ed Thorpe