Christmas comes early as hundreds flock to Portsmouth Cathedral’s festive fair 

Christmas Fair at Portsmouth Cathedral - Logan, eight, and Sebastian Dewey, three, meet and get presents from Santa with their mum Natasha  Picture: Vernon Nash (180688-006)
Christmas Fair at Portsmouth Cathedral - Logan, eight, and Sebastian Dewey, three, meet and get presents from Santa with their mum Natasha Picture: Vernon Nash (180688-006)
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CHRISTMAS cheer was in full swing as a popular festive fair returned to Portsmouth over the weekend.

More than 1,500 people packed into Portsmouth Cathedral to join the worship site’s annual Christmas bonanza on Saturday.

The historic Old Portsmouth building’s interior was transformed into a bustling market place, with stalls selling everything from mulled wine, Christmas cards, clothes and jams.

Festive shoppers were eager to snaffle bargains, with proceeds going towards supporting the High Street cathedral.

But for many of the fair’s younger visitors, the major attraction was visiting Santa’s grotto to meet Father Christmas – and come away with an early stocking-filler.

Calvin Downes, eight, of Brighton, was with his grandmother, Julie Mortimer, for the weekend and was among the hoards of children hoping to see Father Christmas.

He said: ‘Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I really love it. I’m really excited to see Santa.’

Julie, 71, of Southsea, added: ‘This fair is a wonderful idea. The children adore coming to it.’

Lucy Burton, 40, of Baffins, was with her six-year-old daughter Clara in the queue. She said: ‘Everything here is really good value. Quite often a lot of these events cost a huge amount of money..

‘This is a great way for families to have fun.’

Linda Swinburne was the event’s organiser and said almost 100 volunteers had come together to make it happen.

She said: ‘This event gets bigger every year. I looked around at one point and I could have wept with happiness. There were so many people.’

The day is expected to raise about £6,000.

Tim Sledge, head of fundraising at the cathedral, said it cost more than £1m to run the cathedral every year.

‘Churches and cathedrals aren’t just for Sundays – they’re for every day of the year,’ he said. ‘So £6,000 is a significant amount of money.’

Organisers also wished to thank businesses for donating to the tombola.