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The Haywards Heath Community CIC in partnership with The Orchards and the Haywards Heath Town Council created the Winter Festival, a magical traditional Sussex event, where we enjoyed many long established local customs and created some of our own.

During the day there was a Winter Market in the park and folk singers and story tellers entertained us. As dusk fell and the Town Lights were switched on, a celebratory Lantern Procession with traditional Yule Log, came up on South Road into Victoria Park.


Why a Yule Log?  Yule is the old name for Winter Solstice, and the tradition of burning a decorated log predates medieval times. The practice was adopted by Christians for whom it represents keeping the baby Jesus warm in the stable. Burning a Yule Log is said to bring peace and prosperity and a piece of the old log should be carefully preserved to light the Log the following year.


Same Sky, the award winning charity, worked with schools and youth groups in Haywards Heath in lantern workshops, kindly funded by West Sussex County Council, produced fantasmagorical  lanterns for the procession.  The procession was supported by the wonderful Burgess Hill Marching Youth.


At the Winter Market, there were plenty of goodies for Christmas from our local retailers and craftsmen for sale.  Foodies were catered for with tempting special Christmas Panetones and burgers, together with plenty of cakes, sweets and mince pies.  Haywards Heath 3rd Beavers was on hand to provide tea, coffee and hot soup. Other stalls provided christmas cards, reefs, festive decorations, and much much more.


Mid Sussex District Council kindly provided funds for the acquisition of five marquees, which enabled local stall holders who did not own their own marquees, to take part. These marquees will be available for use by local organisations in future events in Haywards Heath.


The Great Haywards Heath Yule Log Cake Competition provided a fantastic visual display. The competition had three classes:

  • Open – for all comers

  • Contemporary – for those who wish to experiment

  • Under 16 yrs for our junior bakers.


Cakes were delivered to St. Wifrid’s Church Hall where the judging took place.


The Christmas Retail Window Competition was won by the following retailers:

1st place: Calliope in the Orchards

2nd place: Fun Pots on Sussex Road

3rd place: Grape & Grain on the Broadway


The judges commended the many retailers which took part in the competion for their time, enthusiasm and creativity displayed.


The magic of stories and story tellers has existed since time immemorial.  Haywards Heath had its own story tellers hut at the top of Victoria Park, where throughout the day, children sat on cushions around a story teller and were spell bound by poems and stories old and new.



South Downs Folk Singers were formed originally following a project to ensure that the songs sung on the South Downs since the C18th, were not lost. However, they aim to keep local folksong up-to-date and relevant too by writing and singing new songs that are local emphasis. 

 The folk singers will be performing in a number of locations in the Town, so there will be a wonderful opportunity to listen to a part of Sussex history.  For more information about the Singers, see


Friends of Ashenground & Bolnore Woods.  We are grateful to FOABW for permission to use fallen Ashenground wood to build the storytellers hut and for the Yule Log. The group organises the maintenance and protection of our precious Ancient Sussex Woodland in Haywards Heath.  They encourage responsible use of the woods and carry out flora and fauna surveys to monitor carefully any changes in species over time. 


Burgess Hill Marching YouthAlthough based in Burgess Hill, the band attracts members from surrounding towns and villages. It is an extremely successful youth band, and in addition to supporting local festivals and events, they  compete and perform throughout England and Europe and have won an impressive selection of titles. Over the years, members have had the opportunity to perform at a variety of venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Wembley Arena here in England as well as performing on tour in Germany, Belgium, Holland and France.


The Haywards Heath & District Business Association, where businesses Connect, Communicate, Develop and Grow.

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