Christmas cheer came to Tamworth town centre on Sunday (November 25) 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 7,000 people flocked to the town centre to enjoy the free festive fun which culminated in the switching on of the lights at 5pm. This year the honour of throwing the switch went to the winner of a special Bake-Off competition – Sophie Downing of 2nd Dosthill Brownies, who was accompanied on stage by the Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Peter Thurgood; not forgetting Father Christmas and Peter Rabbit™, who made an appearance too.
The annual Christmas lights switch-on is organised by Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team, together with the Tamworth Christmas Lights Festival Committee, and is another favourite in the town’s calendar of events 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, Upbeat Dance Studio, Landau Forte Sixth Form Dance, ALI Gilbert Feat Teresa Meads, Stage It Academy, Tamworth Pantomime Company, Trinity Trappett, Just Perform, Tamworth Voices and My Favourite Things ended the proceedings with some classic Christmas tunes.
The festive market was a great success with dozens of stalls lining George Street, offering a range of festive treats, local groups, novelties and face painting.
Shoppers were greeted by the merry sounds of Tamworth Wind Band, while elsewhere, under the Town Hall, members of St Francis Church staged a live nativity.
Youngsters got involved with the Christmas lantern parade when they collected their pre-made lanterns, created at workshops during half-term, fitted with glow sticks and mounted on six-foot canes. The impressive parade started from the Castle Bandstand and was led to St Editha’s Church for the main switch-on event.
The square itself was buzzing with festive cheer – not to mention fake snow.
Mark Burbridge, centre manager at Ankerside Shopping Centre, 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 Peter Rabbit™ to the centre to officially kick off the festivities in style,” he added. “Peter 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 Peter Thurgood, 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 Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team 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.”