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Time for the Bobblehat Live Wimbledon Advent Calendar to spread some Christmas cheer 1-24 December. Read our Q&A with William Alder (Artistic Director) and Matthew Seager (Creative Director).

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LocalEditorMerton Fri 01-Dec-17 06:31:47

Today children of all ages will be eagerly starting the countdown to Christmas, marked for many by the daily (well that's the theory...) opening of the doors/boxes of their Advent Calendars. Wimbledon has a fabulously festive, fun and free Bobblehat LIVE Events Advent Calendar of its own, "creating 24 exciting free events in 24 unexpected places, from 1st - 24th December", offering an amazing array of exceptional events guaranteed to add some sparkle to Christmas!! There truly is something for everyone!

We have been lucky enough to put some question to Wimbledon born and bred Will Alder and Matt Seager, artistic and creative directors behind London's first The Bobblehat festival here in SW19. Read on for their answers and you will be inspired to turn up, bobblehats at the ready (currently cold enough to need them!), for an Advent calendar of magical and memorable treats like no other!

What gave you the idea of the Live Events Advent Calendar and why choose Wimbledon as the location for it?
Will There have been many Live Advent Calendars before this one, we believe the idea originated in Stockholm. We took specific inspiration from one in 2015 in Winchester which I worked on with a brilliant organisation called Hat Fair. I enjoyed working on that so much and realised that it would be ideal to bring something of that ilk to the town I was born and brought up in - Wimbledon! And that’s why we chose to put it in Wimbledon, we were both born and brought up in the area, and what could be better than organising a whole series of events in your home town?

2. Please can you give us an overview of the type of events to expect and where?
Matt We couldn't be happier with the quality of acts, venues, and the total variation - it's just amazing! We've got award wining cycling Shakespeare company The HandleBards in a car park kicking us off, dancing in shopping centres, silent disco guided tours, and award winning sketch comedy duo Goodbear will be at the festival. Extempore Theatre who won an Olivier Award with Showstopper! The Improvised Musical in the West End are presenting something rather special, and Cardiff Singer of the World Audience Prize Winning Soprano Louise Alder - that's pretty incredible! Oh and Lukas Mcfarlane, who one Sky 1's Got To Dance will be here with his company. This is just to wet your appetite.. we've got something truly fantastic everyday. As can be seen on our website, there's loads more events which are perfect for young children as well.

3. Without giving too much away can you let us know which Advent dates are your personal favourites and why?
Will I can quite genuinely say that I love them all. I know that’s a cop out answer, but there isn’t a single event that I would recommend missing. They are all unique, they are all in new and exciting places, and they are all utterly brilliant events. And no, I don’t want to give any more away.. although I may have already done!

4. How far afield in Wimbledon will the events/happenings take place? Are we just talking about the town centre and up in Wimbledon Village or could we be talking SW19 borders too?
Matt Well, mostly it's around the high street. We're working closely with our sponsors at Love Wimbledon to keep it nice and central. That being said we have got some great stuff happening a little further afield - Wimbledon Windmill, for example.

5. Please sum up the Live Events Advent Calendar in four words?

6. Can you guide our online mums as to how best they can find out about the family events included in the Advent Calendar (and how they can ensure they are able to book onto them)?
Will Of course! Our website includes a specific “family” tab which will handily point you to all of the events that are particularly suitable for families and children. There is no way of “booking onto” an event as such, just check out that day’s capacity and make sure you’re in that queue early enough to make it in! We’ll be very communicative with the queue when we reach our capacity, so you won’t ever be queuing to get into something only to reach the door and be turned away. And if you don’t make it in, there are so many other things to enjoy in Wimbledon - both on other nights at our events and across the town as a whole (New Wimbledon Theatre has two fantastic shows for all the family, Polka is world renowned for its work, and there are hundreds of wonderful restaurants and shops to enjoy!).

7. What type of events (and how many of the 24) will be family-specific?
Matt Loads of events are suitable and specific for families. These include singing, Christmas tree decorations, music, gingerbread and more. You even have a chance to meet the man himself! There is a 'family' tab on the website with more than 15 suitable events.

8. Do the events encompass the type of things we'd expect given that it's a countdown to Christmas - thinking snow globes, ice-skating, mulled wine and mince pies, tinsel and glitter, santa, panto, sleighbells?
Will We’ve tried to ensure they all have a festive sparkle in one way or another. We have events where you can design your own Christmas meal (and take it away with you), we have carol singing, we have decoration making, we have top-notch Christmas music, and plenty of events for you to join in with. And we actively encourage the audience to wear bobble hats, and are running a competition across the 24 days for the best bobble hat!

9. How many people will be able to attend - will numbers vary by event?
Matt It's a total variation, we've got some events with a 200 person capacity, and some with less than 50. It's all on the website, but make sure you're one time! Remember all the events are completely FREE on a first come first served basis!

10. Our Merton mums are great readers (we have our own book club!) - do any of the events have anything to do with books?
Will We have a great poetry event, and some fantastic well-known and undiscovered stories being told over the course of the festival. For the avid fans of a good story, you will definitely not be disappointed. We’ve got about no fewer than 9 events that will especially appeal to readers.

11. Wimbledon Live Events Advent Calendar aside, what does the build up to Christmas mean to you both? And what are your best related childhood memories?
Will For me it’s all about music and carol singing - particularly around this area. I was born and brought up in Wimbledon in a very musical family, and we always used to go carol singing around lots of local houses with a charity bucket. I was so thrilled when we had the chance to partner with Cancer Research UK to bring a carol singing event to Bobblehat - but like all of our events, it’s got a wonderful twist!

Matt For me its about family and routine. From a couple of days before Christmas, family members start to arrive at our house. We tend to eat similar food, watch similar Christmas films, and really get excited about associating these activities with being close to Christmas - including my yearly strop at why my twin sister seems to be some much better at wrapping presents than me.

12. Do the events build in spectacle as we head towards 24 December? Is the Christmas Eve event the piece de resistance?
Will I would love to say yes, but to be honest they’re spectacular from the get-go! We certainly have something on 24th starring a very special Christmas figure who will need all of our help to make sure he can fulfil a festive task…

13. Indoor or outdoor events (or both?)
Matt Mostly indoor - it's a bit cold isn't it! There are a couple of outdoor events, but we'll be sure to tell you to wrap up warm.

14. Teenagers can often be left out of event planning so I'm really hoping (as the mother of one) that you've factored in something for them?
Will This is something I totally agree with, as I always found as a teenager that we were either being belittled or expected to be too grown up when seeing theatre. So I’m thrilled to say we have one event specifically aimed at teenagers which tackles the huge topic of mental health. Teenagers are also encouraged to a multitude of other events, where we’ve made sure that the artists and acts are truly suitable for all.

15. Will you be back next year? And any plans to roll out the concept elsewhere - and if so, where?
Will It would be silly not to repeat the festival in the future, having built up so many fantastic local contacts and a bit of a name for ourselves. Let’s see how we go with this year, how much funding we manage to raise, and watch this space...

Be part of this December - all welcome!

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