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What we do

Children receiving presents

The procession

St Nicholas Festival was founded to increase awareness of the life, history and traditions of St Nicholas and to raise money in aid of organisations and charities that benefit young people, both locally and further afield.

Since its registration as a charity in 2005 St Nicholas Festival has raised over £60,000 and given grants to more than twenty different children’s organisations and charities. Each year the Trustees nominate the organisations to benefit from their fundraising but they also give small emergency grants when disaster strikes.

The Festival holds fund raising events throughout the year culminating in the Community Parade through the streets of Canterbury to celebrate St Nicholas’ Feast Day on the first Saturday of December.

Please go to our Events page for full details of forthcoming events.

Who was St Nicholas?

Icon of Saint Nicholas

Nicholas was born in Lycia, Asia Minor, in about 270AD and died on 6th December 340AD. His parents died when he was young and he was brought up in a monastery. Nicholas became a priest at the age of 17 and travelled through Palestine and Egypt before returning to Myra where he was made Bishop.

From his youth Nicholas always cared for others and gave away the wealth he inherited from his parents to those in need. Legends tell of him rescuing sailors from a storm, restoring to life 3 young boys who had been murdered by a butcher and helping 3 daughters of a poor local man by anonymously giving each a bag of gold.

After his death Nicholas’ good works led to him becoming a Saint and people celebrated his feast day by giving presents. This practice is still followed in the Netherlands and Germany whilst elsewhere it has been incorporated into the celebration of Christmas. Saint Nicholas over the years changed to Santa Claus – our Father Christmas.

Latest news

Tickets for the Gala Dinner are now available from the office at 25 Burgate, Canterbury.

It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Chairman Gefion Giffen, who died peacefully on 11th April 2015 while visiting family and friends in Wuppertal, Germany. Gefion had been involved with St Nicholas Festival since its inception in 2005 and her enthusiasm and generous spirit will always be missed.

Her funeral was held in Germany and later a service in thanksgiving of Gefion’s life was held at Canterbury Cathedral. Collections raised from both services totalled over £2000 which will be donated to St Nicholas Festival.

The parade route

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Saturday 5th December 2015

12.00 pm – The Parade begins at Westgate Hall.

1.00 pm – St. Nicholas arrives at the Catherdral Christ Church Gate.

1.15 pm – Short service in the Cathedral with singing of carols.

From Westgate Hall join the annual fun Community Parade of schoolchildren and musicians, led by Big Bash, welcoming St Nicholas to Canterbury’s streets. St. Nicholas is greeted by Cathedral and City dignitaries at the Cathedral Gate at 13.00 followed by a short service in the Cathedral. Then refreshments and afterwards gifts from Canterbury Cathedral Shop on Burgate. Anyone can join in and enjoy the Fanfares during the Procession and the singing in the Cathedral!