FLOURISH Christmas Festival returns in 2017 with the Gold Coast’s largest festive marketplace featuring a treasure trove of fair trade goods and unique gifts created by local artisans, amid a celebratory atmosphere of live entertainment, delicious food and fun for all the family.
The popular event brings its vibrant celebration of all things creative to Southport on Saturday, November 18, with registrations now sought from local artists, craftspeople, entertainers and volunteers.
Presented by the Southport Uniting Church, Flourish Christmas Festival unveils an expanded format in 2017, with an eclectic array of stalls by organisations such as Oxfam, Trading Circle, Siham, Craftlink and Nepal Australia Friendship Association selling fair trade goods ethically sourced from communities around the world. Fair trade stallholders are joined by local artists and craftmakers, while talented musicians and roving performers enhance the day’s festive atmosphere, with a rousing program of carols on dusk to provide a fitting finale to the event.
Visitors can indulge in tasty homemade treats, with a barbecue lunch and decadent ice-cream sundaes on offer, or get hands-on at a series of free arts and crafts workshops.
Festival coordinator Reverend Dona Spencer said the special event aimed to connect families and the community through the arts, while also introducing visitors to the importance of fair trade.
“Last year’s inaugural Flourish Christmas Festival was the first time many of our visitors had experienced a fair trade market of such a large scale, and it really spread the message of the importance of supporting a sustainable future for communities around the world,” Rev Spencer said.
“With the Christmas season upon us, Gold Coast families are looking to spread goodwill beyond our own corner of the world, and shopping for fair trade or unique locally made gifts is a way they can contribute to positive outcomes for those communities.
“This Christmas, we would love to see more people turn away from the commercialisation of the season and embrace a more traditional, simple approach to gift-giving, while also making room in our hearts for charitable thoughts and actions for those outside our immediate circle of family and friends,” she said.
The festival’s fair trade marketplace will be held outdoors under a large marquee, while indoors, local craftspeople will display their range of handmade and affordable gifts for sale, ranging from decorations, toys and packaged sweets and treats through to handcrafted jewellery, homewares and candles.
Retired Uniting Church Minister John Martin said he regularly shopped with Oxfam because he was committed to fair trade, which meant better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in overseas communities.
“Fair trade is a means of shopping for consumables such as tea, coffee and chocolate, craft items and clothing so that the people who produce the goods receive a fair and just wage for the work they do,” Rev Martin said.
“Goods are ethically sourced from communities where working conditions are healthy and goods are produced in an environmentally sustainable way.
Rev Spencer said there were still stallholder opportunities for local arts and craftspeople wishing to sell their creations in the market area.
“If you are a local craft maker, fashion designer, artist, pottery maker or cook up delicious treats, we have a fantastic platform for you to showcase your wares to an audience in search of Christmas gifts with a difference for the special people in their lives,” Rev Spencer said.
“We are also seeking buskers and entertainers to perform within the marketplace to give it that extra celebratory atmosphere,” she said.
The festival’s entertainment line-up includes local musicians, bands, buskers, dancers, and roving performers.
Unique Christmas photo opportunities will be available with a life-size nativity scene created by local artist Lesley Rankin with assistance from community volunteers, using recycled timber and found objects.
The beautiful nativity scene will remain in the church window until Christmas, lit up at night to spread seasonal cheer and wonder throughout the community.
Especially for children, a creative kids’ zone will keep young minds and hands busy as they make original Christmas gifts and decorations to take home for the family, then burn off any excess energy on the jumping castle.
Those wishing to be involved in the Flourish Christmas Festival as a stallholder, performer or volunteer should register at flourishartsfestival.com.
Flourish Christmas Festival
Date: Saturday 18 November
Time: 10 am – 6 pm
Venue: Southport Uniting Church, cnr Scarborough and Short streets, Southport