Ambleside Christmas Lights 2.0

After last year’s disaster (a reminder) we made the pilgrimage back to Ambleside for the Christmas Lantern Parade 2.0. I had been to the doctor’s to check up on some moles that I was worried about the week or so before and was half expecting to be rushed in for another bit of me cut off before our annual holiday. Luckily the NHS’ reputation for lack of appointments prevailed and I was free to go without surgery. 

On the day of the parade we had a small amble into Ambleside to show The Grandparents (who we had tag along for the ride) what was on offer and to remind me of the route. I’m nothing but a serial silent planner. I try to act cool as a cucumber and easy going but in reality I’m the girl who looks at the menu before going to a restaurant and has it picked. I even pretend to peruse the menu knowing full well I’m having Chicken Fettuccine and a lime and lemonade.

I wanted to get a good grip of where the parade was going to be and where we could stand to watch Santa Claus himself turn on the lights. I picked the perfect spot, right at the beginning of the route. I figured we would see Father Christmas first and then get to escape back to the cottage before the crowds got too big and this would coincide with keeping River on schedule for food/sleep that I DEFINITELY WASN’T WORRIED ABOUT. (I was, I was just pretending to be chilled.)

When we arrived back in the afternoon we set off an hour before the parade began and so we found ourselves in the middle of a busy Ambleside with relatively little to do to occupy ourselves. We ended up having a walk around as the eyes in the back of my head stared at the spot I had carefully picked out for us. “It’s fine,” I thought, as I saw people congregating by my spot. “We will head back there before it starts.”

We ended up stopping for a break in the middle of the route and it shortly became clear that this was where the party intended to stay. “Relax, Steph. It’s fine” But how will we get out when it ends? “It will be fine, we will just wait for the crowds to go down and go down the high street” What if everyone in the street hangs around waiting for the fireworks?! “Get some help you control freak”

My attention was pulled in another direction, River’s tolerance of being outside without entertainment was quickly running on empty and he needed stimulation. I escaped with a crisp £20 note from Granny’s purse and bought him a dinosaur helium balloon (I hasten to add it was only £4 and the best £4 ever spent as it’s still going strong today.) The balloon kept us all entertained for another 15 minutes and a Baileys hot warm chocolate later we saw the sleigh coming up the street. By now there was hundreds of people on the street and we managed to get a good perch on the curb with a good view. We were looked at with disdain by non-children bearing folk for having an unoccupied pram taking up a good square meter of room but I didn’t want River to miss this. 3 years ago if I saw some selfish shmuck taking up prime santa space with an empty pram I would have burst an artery; how times change.

I held River in my arms as the procession ascended the hill and when Father Christmas stopped right in front of us I thought Granny was going to wet herself with excitement. Would you believe it, by sheer luck we picked the perfect spot after all. I looked at River’s chubby little cheeks and his eyes were frozen; mesmorised. Father Christmas threw his magic in the air and the lights came on above and around us and with a “ho ho ho” he was off.

The drums came next and the longest most beautiful convoy of people with homemade lanterns followed. It was a sight to behold. We decided the best way out of town was the exact way the procession were heading so we snuck in, pram and all, and walked with the lights out of Ambleside as River pointed to the colours in awe, oohing and ahhing.

Definitely worth the second trip and definitely showed me that there is no point planning every detail. Serendipity will see you right.

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