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Frost Fair returns to Bankside

The famous Frost Fair known to William Shakespeare is returning to Bankside on Monday after a 189 year break.

London Bridge's narrow arches slowed the Thames sufficiently for the river to freeze over in severe winters. During the freeze of 1564 the people of London took to the ice for what became the first Frost Fair. At Christmas 1598 the ice was strong enough for the Globe timbers to be dragged from the north bank to its new site in Park Street.

The old fair, a winter version of the City of London's summer Bartholomew Fair, involved coach races, puppet shows and even cooking. The last fair was held in 1814.

The revived Frost Fair in front of Shakespeare's Globe is on Monday 22 December and will have craft and food stalls, mulled ale and wine, music and theatre. In the evening choirs will sing carols and a Frozen Ice Bar will serve cranberry vodka shots in ice glasses.

Cllr Catherine Bowman, Executive member for Regeneration, said: "Southwark people are proud of their heritage and this is a great way for them to remember their ancestors as well as getting into the Christmas spirit.

"The river may not be frozen, but the 2003 Frost Fair will be the best ever. We really hope it will become a popular, annual event on this stretch of the river attracting residents and people who work in the area as well as visitors from all over the world."

The council's ultimate ambition is to extend Bankside's Frost Fair throughout December, modelling it on the Christmas markets of Austria and Germany.

• Frost Fair on Monday 22 December; 12.30-10pm.

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