Hard to believe it in our era of global warming, but the Thames used to freeze in winter and the early Victorian folks used to gather on South Bank for a jolly day out, skating, socialising and generally enjoying the chilly air. Frost Fairs along the river were the big winter event up until the widening of the Thames in 1815 which ended the annual big freeze. We're glad to announce that the Frost Fair came back to London (minus the frozen Thames) in 2003, with thousands of people heading to the riverside walk outside Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe for the 21st century version of this event, and this year's Frost Fair is bigger than ever.
The 2006 Frost Fair opens tomorrow evening and ends Sunday and the big attraction this year is the husky sled ride - with real husky dogs! Rides are only open to children under 12, but there's the opportunity for anyone who has gone through to the other side of puberty to hug one of the husky dogs and have your picture taken with it. It's quite a poor substitute, really, but those dogs are extremely furry and a hug is fair enough.
During Saturday and Sunday, the Frost Fair has a winter market, live entertainment, guided tours of Bankside and a range of workshops for adults and children all held in traditional Mongolian yurts ranging from Christmas wreath-making to kick boxing and lantern workshops to ice-sculpting. If these last few days before Christmas become more than you can bear, then head to the river this weekend for a bit of therapeutic Christmas shopping, sledding, ice-pick wielding or just hanging out with people who are genuinely pleased it is this time of year.
Frost Fair, Friday 15 December to Sunday 17 December, Riverside Walk outside Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe. Open 4.00pm to 9.00pm Friday, 10.00am to 9.00pm Saturday, 10.00am to 6.00pm Sunday, entry is free. For more information, go to the Frost Fair website here.
Image courtesy of Diamond Geezer