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Archive - Monday, 22 November 2010
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County switches on to Christmas
OXFORDSHIRE is turning on the festive cheer with a flick of a switch as towns across the county light up their Christmas decorations.
Wheatley Park School pupil Freddie Mead with his lantern for the Oxford parade
Many town centre streets will be closed off to traffic as roads are filled with performers, traders and musicians, all helping to launch the festive season in traditional style.
Oxford is preparing for a spectacular display with more than 20,000 revellers expected to join the Christmas Light Night celebrations – featuring in an evening of processions, lights, dance, art, live music and street performance.
Friday’s event, will see more than 200 children from schools across Oxford walk through the city with paper lanterns – with the Christmas lights lighting up behind them as they walk.
Lord Mayor John Goddard said: “This will be much more than just turning on the street decorations.
Amie Shaer, seven, gets in the festive mood with Sgt Nicki Entwistle, left, and Pcso Jemma Sykes at the Bicester switch-on
“It is a very old tradition and many societies have mid-winter festivals to cheer people up. This will be a festival of light in a dark time, and will let people look forward to the spring. Mid-winter festivals are almost a part of being human.”
Another new feature this year is a musical parade called Unsilent Night.
There will also be a stage in Broad Street with performances from dance groups and choirs from 4-10pm, and stalls selling hot drinks, food and Christmas presents. Many of the city’s museums, galleries and shops will also be open until 10pm – with sessions taking place at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Castle and the Town Hall.
The event will run from 4-11pm with the lantern procession starting in Bonn Square at 6.15pm and the Christmas lights switch-on in Broad Street at 6.45pm.
Director of Oxfordshire Town Chambers’ Network Iain Nicholson said this Christmas was particularly important for traders because of the tough economic climate.
He said: “A huge amount goes into planning and putting on the Christmas lights switch-on events, with local councils and volunteer business people working together.
“Supporting them on the night and through the Christmas and New Year can make a huge difference to the vitality of local shops and stores, and of our high streets.”
- A choir and dance groups will provide a rousing welcome to the yuletide celebrations in Kidlington on Tuesday, November 23. The village celebrates with craft and charity stalls. The fun starts at 5.30pm, with the switch-on at 7pm.
- In Abingdon the town’s Christmas lights will be switched on by BBC Radio Oxford’s Louisa Hannan on Tuesday, November 30. The parade starts at 6.45pm, the lights will be switched on at 7pm, and there will be fireworks from 8.15pm. District council car parks will be free of charge from 4pm.
- Witney school girl Chloe Grealis will switch on the town’s Christmas lights on Friday, November 26, at 7pm. Chloe, 10, has been crowned the town’s Winter Princess, and will be resplendent in a green gown and a crown of mistletoe.
Celebrations run from 5.30-8pm with music, street performances, a pig roast, stalls in Langdale Hall and Market Square and an unannounced special guest.
Town councillor Chrissie Curry, who designed and made the Princess’s dress, said: “Chloe looks absolutely magical and this year’s event is going to be the best one yet.
“The switch on is something that has grown and grown, and this year it is going to be the best in Oxfordshire.”
The atmosphere is always magical and it really kicks off Christmas shopping in the town, which is generally the busiest time of year for our members.”
- Didcot will host a Christmas Street Fair on Thursday, November 25, celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway.
The Broadway will be closed to traffic from 4pm to 9.30pm to allow the evening of shopping, stalls, entertainment, funfair and steam engines.
Jim Noble, the great-great grandson of train pioneer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, will lead the grand steam parade from 7pm, starting at the Orchard shopping centre and arriving at the Civic Hall in Britwell Road at 7.30pm.
Mr Noble, 42, said: “I’m trying to find the right stovepipe hat for the event.”
- In Wantage, Heart Radio’s Lucy Ellis will open the annual Dickensian evening celebrations at 6pm on Friday, December 3. Shops will open late and Santa and his reindeer will be there.
Vale car parks will be free from 4pm and all day Saturday, with the two-hour parking restriction will also lifted at Sainsbury’s.
- The lights in Banbury will be switched on by Coronation Street actress Jennie McAlpine, who plays Fiz Stape, next Sunday.
Father Christmas will be joined by a Michael Jackson tribute act, and local bands performing.
- In Wallingford, mayor Bernard Stone, will switch on the town’s new Christmas lights on Thursday, December 2, at 6pm.
The event, which will run from 4pm-8pm, will feature an appearance by Father Christmas, as well as live music, charity stalls, a roundabout and a barbecue.
- The lights in Bicester were switched-on on Thursday, by mayor Richard Mould, his wife Eileen and disabled athlete Daniel Steward.
- In Woodstock, a 40-strong marching band will herald the switch-on next Saturday. Revellers will be treated to horse and carriage rides, a visit by Father Christmas, and stalls. The event will run through the day, with the switch on at 6pm.
- The sound of carols will launch the event in Burford next Sunday, November 28. As well as community carol singing, there will be a visit by Father Christmas and a torch-lit procession. The switch on is at 4.30pm.
- Chipping Norton celebrates with a Late Night Christmas Shopping event on Friday, December 3, with a fun fair, hog roast, carols, school’s parade and stalls.
- The same day, the lights in Carterton will be switched on at 6pm by a long-standing town councillor Mike Bulley – the town’s mace bearer. There will also be Christmas stalls and food.
- The Festive Faringdon event next Saturday includes a craft fair. The fun starts at 1pm and finishes at 5pm, with a hog roast, mulled wine, Santa’s grotto, and music.
- For Thame’s spectacular, on Friday, December 3, an ice rink is planned for the High Street car park from 3pm. The skating will be accompanied by a packed programme of festive fun with the lights switched on just before 7pm by mayor Adam Buckland.