Mon, 16 Nov 2020
The Newbury Christmas tree for 2019.
The Newbury Christmas lights switch-on – a centrepiece of the festive calendar – is to go digital this year.
Lockdown restrictions have thwarted plans for a physical spectacle.
However, this has not deterred organisers, who will welcome a virtual audience via a Facebook livestream at 6.45pm this Friday.
Preparations are already in full swing, with decorative lights arrayed around town.
Newbury Business Improvement District (BID) has put up a 35ft tree in Market Place and opening remarks will be provided by Newbury mayor Elizabeth O'Keeffe.
The event is to be themed around the BID's ''Tis The Season To Shop Local' campaign, extolling the benefits of homegrown and high street businesses.
In addition to the switch-on, a post-lockdown Christmas trail is being organised in conjunction with the Parkway and Kennet Shopping centres.
This follows the success of a recent Hallowe'en trail.
The trail's provisional start date has been announced as December 5.
The competition will then run through to December 31, covering the whole holiday season.
Newbury BID chief executive Melissa Hughes said: "We're delighted to share the news of our mini virtual Christmas lights switch-on.
"This year has been such a challenging one for so many members of our community and the last thing we wanted was to appear as though we were cancelling Christmas in the town centre.
"Covid can't beat our Christmas spirit and we've adapted to make the special switch-on moment safe using digital platforms with streaming capabilities.
"Stay at home for now, and Christmas will be ready and waiting for you in the town centre when you return.”
The event will be available to view on the BID's Facebook page.