THIS year’s Christmas lights switch-on is being hailed as the biggest and best, after more than 9,000 people flocked to Tamworth on Sunday as it was transformed into a winter wonderland.
For the first time, this year the switch-on took place on a Sunday. Another welcome new addition was a festive Christmas market, with more than 20 stalls along George Street, selling a range of Christmas gifts and novelties, local produce and festive food.
Live music, dance performances, fairground rides, a living Nativity, Christmas treasure hunt and a Dickensian street performer were just some of the attractions at this year’s switch-on event.
The fun started at 11am, with dozens of events taking place throughout the town centre during the day. The focus of the day’s proceedings was the stage in St Editha’s Square, sponsored by Touch FM. It hosted performances from a wide range of acts, including X-Factor contestants The Joys, Rotary Search For a Star runner-up George Radcliffe, Urban Fusion Dance Company, Tamworth Pantomime Company, Two Gates Primary School choir and Tamworth Voices.
The Community Café ran free arts and crafts activities, St Editha’s Church was packed with decorated Christmas trees and the ever-popular walkabout characters mingled with the crowds.
Worshippers from St Francis Church in Leyfields staged a live Nativity next to the Town Hall. Just down the road in Market Street, Fergus & Fogg Toy Emporium added to the festive feel with a snow machine and carol singers outside the shop.
Dozens of Santas took part in the Rotary Club Santa Stroll, with walks for able-bodied people, dog walkers, pushchairs and wheelchair users.
The climax of the festive fun was the big Christmas switch-on at 5pm. This year, Tamworth’s Christmas lights were switched on by Unwrap Tamworth at Christmas art competition winner Bethany Khan, Father Christmas and Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Richard Kingstone.
The choir from St Editha’s Church then brought the event to a close in traditional festive style by leading the crowd in a Christmas carol sing-along.
Organisers plan to build on the success of this year’s event and hope to expand the Christmas market and entertainment next year and have been asking Tamworth Informed readers for their feedback on the event.
Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Richard Kingstone, said: “The Christmas lights switch-on is one of the highlights of Tamworth’s year and this year’s event was truly amazing. The town was the busiest it has ever been for the switch-on and most people came and stayed all day.
“I would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in making the switch-on happen, and to everyone who came along to support it. The Christmas season has now well and truly started in Tamworth.”