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Let the Christmas fun begin: Newbury celebrates with a day-long festival before the official light switch on

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Newbury will be lighting up for the start of the Christmas festivities this weekend.

The annual Christmas Lights Switch-On is being extended into a day-long festival on Saturday (November 20), including more than 20 free workshops and extra entertainment for the first time this year.

Between 10am and 5pm, visitors can enjoy a full programme of free festive activities at select venues across the town centre. And then from 5pm, live entertainment and performances will occupy a screened stage in Market Place in the lead-up to the highly anticipated Christmas Lights Switch-On.

Newbury's Christmas lights will be switched on this weekend
Newbury's Christmas lights will be switched on this weekend

Frozen ice-queen sisters will be on stage to ‘let it go’ post switch-on and the live music and performances will continue until 9pm.

Newbury BID, the not-for-profit organisation behind the Visit Newbury brand, is confident that the day’s programme of free family activities, including cookie decorating, Christmas wreath making, character meet and greets, and pop-up choirs, will help enhance Newbury’s festive offering more than ever before.

Newbury Town Council will be also be offering tours of the town council building throughout the day.

Newbury BID's operations manager, Alison Drummond, said: "Our Christmas Lights Switch-On Festival is set to be the best Newbury has ever had and is yet another event we are delivering as part of a heightened festive offering for Newbury this year.

"We are so excited to deliver this day-long event for local residents to enjoy and we encourage everyone to take full advantage of the shops and eateries across town that will be open for business ready for you to continue the festive fun in-store on the day.

"We are so thankful to all of the organisations providing their services to help create a truly special and jam-packed day in Newbury and would like to give a heartfelt shout-out to the businesses which are offering their venue on the day."

The festive merriment will continue next month too, when Newbury’s first Victorian Christmas Fayre will come to town. It will include a wide range of market stalls with traders dressed head-to-toe in typical Victorian attire, alongside Victorian-themed roving performers, a Victorian carousel, live music and entertainment and, of course, Father Christmas.

The event will take place between 10am and 8pm on Friday and Saturday, December 3 and 4, with an earlier finish time of 5pm on the final day of the event on the Sunday.

n Other towns in West Berkshire will be turning on their lights in the coming weeks.

Hungerford’s lights will be switched on from 3pm on Sunday, November 28 – at the Town Hall – with the annual Victorian Extravaganza and fireworks returning on Friday, December 10. For more details see page 30.

The following weekend Thatcham will be illuminated from 5pm on Friday, December 3, in the Broadway.

Hundreds of Santas will then be dashing around the town in the Thatcham Rotary Great Santa Fun Run on Sunday, December 5, with a Christmas market at the Thatcham Memorial Hall on the same day. For more details see page 32.

Events throughout the day will include:

  • Family Panto Workshop at Newbury Town Hall
  • Santa’s Grotto at Parkway
  • Festive papercraft and decopatch drop-in workshops at The Globe’s garden
  • Family Christmas songs workshop at Hogan Music
  • Alternative kitch Christmas wreath at The Dolphin pub
  • Christmas tree decoration workshop at The Ugly Duckling
  • Christmas cupcake and cookie decorating with Colline’s Kitchen at the Waterside Centre
  • Christmas bath bomb painting at House of Bubbles, Kennet Shopping
  • Make your own Christmas cards workshop at The Works, Kennet Shopping
  • The Great Cider Mull Off with local cider makers at The Catherine Wheel
  • The Great British Beer Off competition at The Spare Wheel
  • Jewellery making workshop at Kreationz, Kennet Shopping
  • Try out high score activity machine in Market Place
  • Try out fitness classes at bstFitness – free entry all day for gym, sauna and swimming pool
  • Try out Mario Kart fastest lap competition at CEX, Kennet Shopping
  • Teddy Bear treasure hunt at Bas‘n’Books, Kennet Shopping
  • Christmas colouring competition at Boswell’s, Kennet Shopping
  • Name the cuddly puppy competition at Hallmark, Kennet Shopping
  • Meet the Grinch and a Frozen princess at Barry Forkin-Toomers between 3pm and 4.30pm

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