It started to feel a lot like Christmas on Saturday 24th November with a day packed full of free entertainment for the big Christmas lights switch-on organised by Chippenham Connected in partnership with Chippenham Town Council.
The event, kindly supported by title sponsors John Williams Heating Services Ltd, began early with an artisan market adding to Wiltshire Council’s regular stalls from 10am, and interactive activities for all to enjoy from 1pm. Two photo stations (with free souvenir photo to take away) were on offer: a snow globe at Hathaway Retail Park and Cinderella in a fairy tale carriage in Borough Parade Shopping Centre. Wandering around town the Town Crier, a Winter Bubble Elf and a Glo Fairy (on stilts!) brought festive cheer to the crowds who came into Chippenham to take part in the event.
Over in Emery Gate Shopping Centre the face painting went down a storm as always, as well as the first day of this year’s Santa’s Grotto. As a special addition this year, The Grinch also joined in the fun at the Whoville-styled grotto with his own inimitable style! Little ones were kept busy at The Neeld with paper wreath crafts and at Waterstones who hosted three storytelling sessions. There was also something for a more reflective visitor to the town with community carols hosted by Chippenham Churches Together in St. Andrew’s Church.
Kathryn Crosweller, manager at Chippenham Connected, said, “We start planning really early for this event and we’re thrilled to be bringing the town more and more activity each year. Chippenham’s USP has become its varied programme of high-quality events and it’s great to see that more and more people are coming along. Footfall was up by 38% on the previous Saturday and up 10% on the 2017 Christmas light switch-on event in Chippenham, with some businesses saying that it was the single busiest day they have ever seen in Chippenham!”
The big switch-on itself marked the end of a fantastic line-up of local talent on the main stage in the Market Place presented by BBC Wiltshire’s Ben Prater. Local dance schools Dancing Academy and Xpression Dance took to the stage to showcase their students’ skills and Clogettes – the junior group of Clogs Musical Theatre – delighted the crowds with their choice of songs.
The big moment itself came after a performance from Lifford Shillingford who has one of the most soulful voices in the music industry, and after the much-loved abseiling Santa descended from Chippenham Museum’s top floor window. The headline star and big man himself were joined by the Mayor of Chippenham and title sponsors John Williams Heating Services Limited for the big switch-on.
The Mayor of Chippenham, Cllr Andy Phillips said of the event, “What a great fun evening the Christmas Lights switch on was, certainly one of the best I can remember for some time. The town centre was absolutely packed, and a huge cheer greeted the moment all of us on stage together pressed the button that switched the lights on turning it into an area of sparkling colour. Excellent entertainment from the various dancing groups and main guest artist singer Lifford Shillingford, plus Santa abseiling down the side of the museum, all added to the enjoyment. Many congratulations to all concerned in organising and running such a memorable evening.”
Debbie Williams of title sponsors John Williams Heating Services Ltd, said, “We were delighted to be part of such a fantastic and well organised event. To see the Town so vibrant and busy was truly magical and exciting! Well done to everyone involved.”
Chippenham Connected and Chippenham Town Council would like to wish the local residents and businesses a very happy Christmas. We’re looking forward to another full year of great events in 2019. Keep an eye on www.chippenhamconnected.com to stay up to date.
Watch the highlights video HERE
For more information, please visit www.chippenhamconnected.com