Black Country Living Museum comes alive after dark for Christmas Nights - review and pictures
Choirs, circus entertainers and classic cars brought the Black Country Living Museum to life as visitors got to see its cobbled streets lit up by fires and festive lights for Christmas.
The Christmas Nights events returned for 2019 on Friday complete with pork babs and tubs of pigs in blankets for sale, Christmas-themed gins to warm up with in the Bottle & Glass Inn courtyard, and Santa waiting to grant the wishes of younger visitors in the living room of one of the Victorian-era homes.
Just one thing could have been forewarned - be prepared to queue.
The wet weather that had plagued much of the day subsided and visitors flooded the streets instead, stopping to sing carols with the various street choirs performing or trying to win a prize or two as the funfair lit up to welcome all-comers.
It just meant that with so many people there then the big attractions - such as Hobbs and Sons Fish & Chip Shop, The Village Fried Fish Shop and the outdoor gin bar at the Bottle & Glass Inn meant queuing for long periods in the cold, which isn't ideal with a little one in tow.
But beyond that, this was a wonderful family night out in one of the region's best visitor attractions. Walking along, stopping to listen to one of the various street choirs singing festive songs and picking up a hot drink from the ample carts and stalls spread around the site serving them meant that if you weren't interested in the items listed above there was nothing to be worried about.
People joined in with what they saw. The Victorian fairground was alive with the usual mechanical music as well as the squeals of young and old celebrating winning a prize on one of the game stalls or lifting their arms up and shrieking as they whizzed past on the 1930s Speedway Ark.
As well as crowds stopping to join in with the carols, there was a queue for excited youngsters waiting to meet Santa himself in the Anchor Maker's House, while ghost stories in the dark entertained the more hardy in one of the Station Road Cottages.
And given that Christmas is a social, family time of year then the magic of stopping with strangers to sing traditional and modern festive hits is one that should be treasured in a modern society where we usually rush past each other without a second glance.
Kudos, too, to the two women who had dressed themselves in fairy lights to imitate Christmas trees. It's that kind of effort that makes these chance encounters even better.
So thank you to the museum and its, as always, dedicated staff willing to entertain young and old in character to bring a Victorian social Christmas to us in the 21st Century. Just don't get your hopes up of munching on the museum's much-praised beef-dripped chips too quickly.
And remember, too, to check out the craft stalls housed in the Rolfe Street Building on the way out to pick up some alternative hand-made gifts for the special people in your life.
The event ran over Friday and Saturday night, and will do so again this Friday and Saturday and on December 20 and 21, which are already sold out.