Christmas cheer came to Tamworth town centre on Sunday (November 24) when thousands of people enjoyed an afternoon of festive entertainment for the whole family.
The yuletide season was kicked off in style with food stalls, festive drinks, fairground rides, nativity, walkabout characters, face painting, lantern parade, and a variety of live community 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 just after 6pm. This year the honour of throwing the switch went to the winner of a special Bake-Off competition – Brownie Pixie Wallbank, who was accompanied on stage by the Mayor of Tamworth, Richard Kingstone; together with Father Christmas and PJ Masks characters, who made an appearance too.
The annual Christmas lights switch-on is organised by Tamworth Christmas Festival Committee and Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team, 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 local schools - Flaxhill Primary, Two Gates Primary and St Leonard’s Primary. Other local groups took to the stage including, Treyc Cohen’s Feel Good Choir, Tamworth Pantomime Company, Just Perform, Tamworth Voices, Meg Benton and D-Day Darlings Katy Ashworth and the D-Day Darlings Juniors, who ended the afternoon of free entertainment with some classic wartime and Christmas tunes.
There was a different feel to this year’s market with several stalls offering a wide range of tasty street food including Spanish churros, Thai food, burgers, pizza, Indian selection, sweet treats such as fudge and doughnuts and festive delights such as Bailey’s hot chocolate and mulled wine.
Youngsters got involved with the Christmas lantern parade when they collected their pre-made lanterns, created at workshops during half-term and weekends, fitted with glow sticks and mounted on six-foot canes. This year the new spectacular lantern parade represented the 12-days of Christmas, with the involvement of 12 different community groups and a sing-along starting at St Editha’s Square.
The square itself was buzzing with festive cheer with snow making an appearance at the end.
Mark Burbridge, centre manager at Ankerside, said: “We knew that there was great excitement and a buzz throughout Tamworth ahead of the festivities, but we were still surprised – and thrilled - by the fantastic attendance on Sunday.
“Seeing so many people from every generation and different communities enjoying the rides, food, music and lantern parade together was a wonderful sight to behold. Ankerside provided additional entertainment earlier in the day, with Catboy from PJ Masks whipping up a frenzy among the little ones. The shopping centre’s mascots Tammy and River also joined us for a fun-packed afternoon.
“All the activities truly captured the wholesome spirit of the season and we would like to say ‘thank you’ to all who supported and enjoyed the celebrations. We’d like to wish everyone the merriest of Christmases.”
Mayor of Tamworth, Richard Kingstone, 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 Christmas Festival Committee and 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.”