It was a record breaking day at the 7th Çalış Christmas Fair – record crowds, a record number of stalls and a record amount raised for local children.

Even the sun shone brightly for the festive annual event which raised a record 5,180 TL for a local children’s charity.

Biggest Ever

The popular fair, organised by Çalış Children’s Charity, the 3C’s, took place on Sunday 8 December and was the biggest and best ever with 220 stalls selling a wealth of traditional Christmas decorations, cards, unique gifts and presents as well as a wide range of beautiful hand made craft items, jewellery, cakes, paintings, flower arrangements, stained glass, wrought iron wall art and a treasure trove of other gorgeous goodies.

The fair attracted thousands of visitors, some from as far afield as Antalya, Muğla, Marmaris and Kas. Many of these visitors organized coach trips to what has now become one of the highlights of the Çalış calendar and some visitors now even book into hotels for the weekend just to attend the fair.

Throughout the day, the happy crowds thronged the bunting and balloon decked promenade, snapping up bargains from the abundance of stalls, whilst soaking up the festive atmosphere and sampling seasonal Christmas fare.

Festive Spirit

The seafront bars and restaurants were heaving all day and did a roaring trade as they plied their customers with their own “festive spirit”.

At 12.00 noon, Fethiye Municipality Band, looking resplendent in their smart new uniforms played popular tunes in front of the sunset viewing terrace to the appreciative crowds.

Then as 1.00 approached, a long queue of excited children and their parents formed outside Father Christmas’s magnificent balloon house set in his “Winter Wonderland” as they awaited the arrival of Father Christmas in his decorated “sleigh wagon”. Although he was delayed slightly, allegedly due to extreme weather at the North pole (more due to traffic congestion through the centre of Çalış), a huge cheer erupted as he arrived on the promenade , accompanied by his fairy, elf and pixie helpers as well as Minnie and Mickey Mouse – and a barrage of television cameras. Over 160, mainly Turkish, children queued up to meet him and receive presents.

Amazing Turnout

“It was an amazing turnout” said 3C’s chairman Peter Clark. Thankfully, the weather was kind to us this year which made all the difference. The stalls all appeared to be doing great trade and the atmosphere was brilliant. Everyone appeared really happy and having a great time”.

A number of local Fethiye charities also had stalls at the fair and did really well for their good causes.

Uzumlu residents David and Jacqui King who have their own “Fethiye Fogies” blog internet site wrote of the fair, “We have never seen Çalış sea front as busy as it was today. It was really nice to see how much the Turkish people have embraced the idea of this event, bringing their children to share in the day’s festivities and queuing up to see Noel Baba.

The atmosphere is fantastic. There is a feel good factor at the event and being so far away from the build up to Christmas that we are used to in the UK, it brings home to you that Christmas is in fact just around the corner. Although this is only our second year of attending the event, for us it marks the beginning of Christmas each year. It’s a brilliant social event attended by so many people, that just meandering along the stalls, we bumped into so many of the lovely people who we have met since coming to live here and were able to pass the time of day before wandering on again.

Fantastic Atmosphere

This is an extremely well organised event, which we thoroughly enjoyed and it is no surprise that people are now travelling from far afield. Well done to the 3Cs for organising another spectacularly enjoyable day. Credit to all their volunteers for having to set up yesterday in appalling weather conditions. None of us should underestimate the hard work that they put in for us to have such a lovely event to attend today.

Thank you Çalış Children’s Charity, we hope you raised lots of money for the local children. I’m sure at the moment you are all exhausted and can’t even contemplate your 8th Çalış Christmas fair, but there are a lot of us who appreciate what you do and are looking forward to next year, when you will instill the Christmas spirit into us all again”.

The Çalış Christmas Fair started seven years ago with just 40 stalls located in and around four restaurants on the promenade and has grown dramatically in size and popularity. This year’s fair was fully booked weeks before the event with the organisers having to turn away late bookings.

“When we lived in UK, we always visited Lincoln Christmas Market in early December” said Peter. “This traditional fair is now one of the biggest and most popular Christmas fairs in Britain and has about 250 stalls, so Çalış is catching up very fast!”

Cracking Event

He continued “The 3C’s would like to thank all our hard working volunteers who helped with the fair and everyone who took part, supported or attended the fair. We would particularly like to thank Fethiye Municipality Band, Hilkat and Ersin İnan for the balloon decorations, Cem of Aydin Pide for providing “Santa’s wagon” and being his driver for the two days, the owners of Eyna Restaurant and the Nil Bar for all their help and support over the past few weeks, Mete Ay of the Çalış association, Halime Ok, head of Fethiye Zabita, Dilek Dincer and Kadriye Çaycı of FETAV and those restaurant and bar owners who supported us.

We at the 3C’s had a great time and we hope everyone else did too. It was hard work and it took many weeks of planning but it was well worth it”.

Some of the photos kindly contributed by David and Jacqui King