10 great things to do in the Portsmouth area this week

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If you’re stuck for what to do with the family this week, here are some ideas to get you out and about and into the Christmas spirit.

1 NEW EXHIBITION

Flourish, a new neon artwork from artist Alison Carlier, has been unveiled at Aspex to mark 10 years of the gallery in the historic Vulcan Building at Gunwharf Quays.

Flourish is an installation that takes cues from the military history of the Vulcan Building, which was once an artillery store for HMS Vernon.

Aspex is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 4pm, and admission is free. Call (023) 9277 8080 or visit aspex.org.uk for more information.

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2 CAROLS AND FAIR

Families will be encouraged to get in the giving spirit today with an evening of carols and festive fair at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral.

The event, which is being hosted by The Rowans Hospice, will feature carols and Christmas favourites performed by local choirs including the Havant Pitchpipers. There’ll be plenty of chances to sing along while you raise money for the hospice, which provides specialist care for people with life-limiting illnesses.

After the service, why not look around the festive fair, and peruse gifts, jams and chutneys, cards, calendars and diaries?

Doors open at 6.15pm. Tickets cost £5 each and are available in advance by calling (023) 9223 8532.

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3 ARTS AND CRAFTS

If your feeling artistic, come along to the Emsworth Community Centre in North Street today for a craft fair.

More than 45 stalls will be packed into the centre selling a range of crafts to help you get ready for Christmas.

Doors are open from 10am to 2pm and entry is free.

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4 HOEDOWN

Dust off your hat and polish your cowboy boots, it’s time to giddy on up for a rootin’-tootin’ night of country and western dancing.

Held every Sunday from 7.40pm at Park Gate’s Royal British Legion Club, all are welcome whether you’ve got do-si-dos down to a tee or you’ve never attempted a square dance in your life. There’s also a bar and a raffle.

RBL members pay £5, while non-members pay £6.50. For more details, call Maureen on 01329 519765.

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5 DIG THE DENIM

Fashionistas and faux-pas perpetrators will find free exhibition Love Thy Denim a perfect fit for a rainy day.

Running at Gosport Discovery Centre until December 21, Love Thy Denim explores the history of denim from the Wild West to Vivienne Westwood, and from its workwear heritage to becoming the fabric of everyday life.

The centre is open Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm. Call (023) 9252 3463 to find out more.

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6 WINTER TREATS

If you’re running short of Christmas present ideas, then Port Solent’s winter wonderland weekend extravaganza will be sure to solve your ‘buyer’s block’.

The festival returns today and Sunday by popular demand, with quirky retailers selling unique gifts, hand-made crafts and food and drink at the waterside market.

The festival is open from 10am-6pm on Saturday and from 10am-4pm on Sunday. More info at portsolent.com.

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7 MAYOR’S CAROLS

Gosport’s Christmas spirit will be overflowing tomorrow as the town’s Mayor, Lynn Hook, hosts her carol service.

Anyone is welcome at the service at Holy Trinity Church, which begins at 6pm.

Marvel at the fully-restored Handel organ while you sing along with the church’s choir. Cllr Hook, along with Gosport Borough Council leader Mark Hook, will also give festive readings. Call (023 ) 9284 1783 for all the details.

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8 BEST OF BRITISH

If you’re a fan of your independent, interesting and artistic cinema, then why not celebrate 20 year of the British Independent Film Awards at Vue in Gunwharf Quays?

The multiplex is one of the few venues in the country to host the launch screen of this year’s BIFA recipient, American Honey, tomorrow.

Directed by Andre Arnold, American Honey follows a runaway teenager who has second thoughts about her hard-partying, law-breaking lifestyle.

You’ll also be able to see tons of other BIFA-nominated films throughout the new year, including I, Daniel Blake, Couple In A Hole, Under The Shadow and Notes On Blindness.

Tickets are just £5. You can buy them and find a full schedule of screenings at myvue.com.

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9 FESTIVE VARIETY

Trash Arts’ showcases have given a platform to some of Portsmouth’s most talented poets, comedians and spoken word artists.

The festive finale of 2016, Open Ya Mouth XII, will bring the very best in ‘general ranting’ to The Fat Fox, Southsea on Monday at 8pm. The evening, hosted by Scott Jowett, will also include various raffles, prizes and suprises to raise money for a local charity selected by Trash Arts. Entry is free, find out more at trasharts.co.uk.

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10 SANTA’S SPECIAL

Time to treat the family to an early gift from Santa on the Watercress Line.

A travel on board the Santa Special locomotive along a scenic Hampshire route will get you and the kids feeling festive.

A ride from Alresford or Alton station on December 10-11 and 17-24 costs £18. More info at watercressline.co.uk.

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