CHRISTMAS cheer came to Tamworth town centre on Sunday (November 26) when thousands of people enjoyed an afternoon of festive entertainment for the whole family.
The yuletide season was kicked off in style with a Christmas market, fairground rides, nativity, walkabout characters, craft activities, face painting, lantern parade, and a variety of live performances from the Touch FM stage in St Editha’s Square.
An estimated 8,000 people flocked to the town centre to enjoy the free festive fun which culminated in the switching on of the lights at 5pm by winner of a special Bake-Off competition – Amanda Little, accompanied by the Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr John Chesworth; not forgetting Father Christmas and The Gruffalo who made an appearance too.
The annual Christmas lights switch-on is organised with the Tamworth Christmas Lights Festival Committee and is another favourite in the Tamworth Arts & Events calendar which attracts thousands of people, who flock to the town to enjoy the celebrations each year.
The switch-on also coincided with the annual Christmas Tree Festival in St Editha’s Church, which gave visitors the chance to admire dozens of trees decorated by schools, businesses, local groups and individuals.
The focal point for the afternoon of fun was the Touch FM stage in St Editha’s Square, featuring live performances from St Leonard’s Primary School, Matilda Pratt, Ellie Lake, Upbeat Dance Company, Stage It!, Just Perform and Tamworth Voices ended the proceedings with a Christmas sing-along.
The festive market was a huge success with dozens of stalls lining George Street, offering a range of Christmas delights from seasonal local produce to gifts, novelties and crafts.
Shoppers were greeted by the merry sounds of Tamworth Wind Band and Positive Labels, a group of young local musicians.
While elsewhere, under the Town Hall, Landau Sixth Form Academy performed with a ‘Site Specific Dance’. This was followed by members of St Francis Church who staged a live nativity and Tamworth Pantomime Company performing a teaser of this year’s magical and hilarious panto, Cinderella.
Children got involved with craft activities and lantern making at the Castle Activity Centre in the Castle Grounds. Free glow-sticks were given to the children prior to the parade, to make their lanterns glow.
The square itself was buzzing with festive cheer – not to mention fake snow.
People took to social media during and after the event with their comments including:
“Brill free evening.”
“It was great to see local talent.”
“A well organised event with lots to see. We invited the family over with our ages ranging from 2-year-old to 65-year-old and had a lovely time! First time we have been but thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.”
“Lovely festive family event bringing the town together. Thanks to the organisers and the people that took part.”
Jeff Wigley, Ankerside Shopping Centre manager and committee member for the town’s Christmas light switch on, said: “Here at Ankerside, we really wanted to do something extra special to celebrate the festive season, so we were so pleased to be able to team up with Tamworth Borough Council for the annual light switch on.
“Throughout the day, we welcomed Santa and The Gruffalo to the centre to officially kick off the festivities in style.”
He added: “The Gruffalo then went on to the town centre to meet and greet more children as well as help turn the lights on.
“It was brilliant to see such an incredible turn out at Ankerside and St Editha’s Square on Sunday and we hope everyone had as much fun as we all did.”
Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr John Chesworth, said: “The Christmas lights switch-on is yet another popular event in Tamworth’s busy programme of free entertainment with a wide range of activities taking place throughout the town centre.
“Once again the committee of organisers did us proud with another fantastic and enjoyable afternoon of fun which really got everyone in the festive mood. There was something for everyone to enjoy and it was great to see families and people of all ages enjoying themselves.”