By Robyn Wynn
There is a rule in my house; no Christmas before December 1st. This is for the sanity of all around me as, for a month, I hail from the land of ice and snow. So, to fit as much Christmas in as possible, I attended the Betws-y-Coed Christmas 2012 in the ‘gateway to Snowdonia’ around 30mins drive from Bangor.
The drive down the A5 was stunning, the mountains looked like someone had sprinkled them with sugar and some of the mini waterfalls had formed abstract sculptures of ice around their mouths.
The 1st Saturday of December signifies something special in Betws-y-Coed: exposure to the most exuberant and excitable Christmas lovers around, myself included. This breed of humanity also known as homo-santa, has been known to throw down over Christmas displays and strangle each other with lengths of 1inch red satin ribbon. Thankfully Sophie, a homo-scroogous, agreed to come along to keep me in order.
I started out slow, with the petting of reindeer and birds of pray while making our way over to the Alpine Café. Flanked by a cast iron gorilla, the Alpine café is furnished in an eclectic array of styles and eras. Over a spicy chai latte, which, in my opinion is the beverage of the gods, I watched the flow of people coming off trains from Llandudno and further afield, and observed the general goings on around me; a toddler with an ice cream, in December, getting more on his face than in it. Great parenting skills.
The tents around the common contained most of the crafty goings on with basket making tutorials, lantern making and face painting. I have to say I did queue up to have my face painted, but, being the kind person I am, and desperate for a cuppa, I gave up my spot for the under 10s to proceed. We then dawdled along to The Royal Oak, the pub that sponsored the whole event, to drink our volume in brew. However, en route, I got distracted by a sign advertising Christmas shortbread decorating, and all the control I’d been exercising simply fell away. I paid my £1 and through myself into the creative process. This was clearly a job for my A level Fine Art understanding and ability. I hope you agree, it belongs in the Tate modern.
I am a rather flawed individual; one of my foibles is that I’m a sucker for a funfair. Even if its just teacups. Along the high street, which runs perpendicular to the other row of shops in Betws-y-coed, was the cause of my distraction. Consisting of a high speed spinney thing, teacups, a children’s train ride and a hook-a-duck, to use the technical terms, the annual funfair draws and herds the homo-santas towards the other festive shops. One that particularly spoke to me was a deli with maybe eight different types of gingerbread house and a whole wall of cheeses.
To round of the day, the Royal Oak puts on an exquisite fireworks display. There have been some pretty good ones recently, the Olympics for example, but for a place with a population of around 550, if that, it is a spectacular show and a wonderful end to a really packed day. So if you’re free on the 1st Saturday of December next year, hop on a train to Llandudno junction and change to Betws-y-Coed, or just drive down the A5.