Stokes Valley Christmas Parade 2023

Sparkles and tinsel and a new place to spend Christmas

Wellington Batucada at the 2023 Stokes Valley Christmas Parade - photo by AliG

It’s been a good few years since I’ve been to Stokes Valley, so I did my Google Maps homework, and had it all planned out in my head. Give myself an hour to drive there in case the traffic’s bad. Aim to arrive an hour before the parade begins. Half an hour to find a park. Half an hour to walk up the parade route from Stokes Valley town centre to the start of the parade. It worked very well. It’s a blimmin’ long way up that hill from the town centre to the start of the parade, so I was very glad I’d given myself a good long time to walk it.

I’m not certain that Christian and Joe gave themselves quite as much time. In fact, I reckon they went “Pick you up an hour before the gig? Plenty of time, eh?”. They arrived, somewhat out of breath, a couple of minutes after the parade began. Phew! Nothing like cutting it fine – and I guess you might argue that they actually timed it PERFECTLY. I freely admit that I am incapable of cutting it fine, and always seem to arrive at least half an hour before our earliest muster time. Just in case. Because you never know.

The parade route was nothing like the route we used to take at the late lamented and dearly departed Johnsonville Christmas Parade. In Johnsonville we would go for what seemed like miles around every street in the town centre, and every street was packed with people cheering us on. The Stokes Valley parade went down a lovely wide street, tree-lined in places with grassy berms and big front gardens – and the occasional family gathered outside their house, cheering and waving at us. It was quite peaceful really – at least initially.

Wellington Batucada at the 2023 Stokes Valley Christmas Parade - photo by Jein Fonda

But as we headed further on down the hill there were more and more people outside their houses waiting to see the parade go by, and then the gaps between the front gardens got filled with people as well – until by the time we arrived at the end of the parade, next to the outdoor Christmas Market on the edge of the town centre – there were TONS of people – and they really really appreciated our rhythms – especially samba reggae and funk. So many smiles and happy people, grooving with our music. It was totally cool.

I guess the Stokes Valley Christmas parade has been going for a good few years – but as it was our first one, it was all pretty new and special. I hope we get to do it all again next year. It’s always so great when you find a new audience that really gets you.

We repaired to the local hostelry for a post-parade lemonade, which was very nice. The chocalhos were particularly impressed with the “Shhh” portrait of Mr D. Bowie. We took a couple of photos as a souvenir of our Big Day Out in Stokes Valley. Happy Christmas!

Wellington Batucada after the Stokes Valley Christmas parade - photo by Rebecca Routhan

Photo gallery

Photos by Alison Green, Andre Grobler, Epu Tararo, Gina King, Jein Fonda and Rebecca Routhan. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:

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