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Newbury town centre busiest for nearly two years as more than 30,000 turn out for day of Christmas festivities

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Nearly 35,000 visitors from across West Berkshire and beyond headed to Newbury town centre on Saturday to enjoy the Christmas festivities and the big Christmas lights switch-on.

Newbury Business Improvement District (BID) put on a full day of fun, with more than 20 free festive activities and workshops for children, adults and families alike.

These ranged from alternative Christmas wreath making, hosted and delivered by independent businesses The Dolphin pub and Willow and Blooms, Card Printing Workshops from City Arts Newbury at Camp Hopson, Beer Tasting at The Spare Wheel, and Papercraft Decorations at The Globe.

The crowds turn out for the Newbury Christmas lights switch on and festival.
The crowds turn out for the Newbury Christmas lights switch on and festival.

The Dolphin pub owner Ed Turner said: “It was fantastic to see so many people back in Newbury after what feels like a very long time.

“The pub was so busy, and we had customers of all ages come in for the event and order food as they put their creative caps on – which is just the result we were after.”

Helen Vickers, of Willow and Blooms, added: “It was lovely to see such a variety of customers coming in to take part in the free workshop.

The Grinch and Ana from Frozen turn out at Newbury's oldest store.
The Grinch and Ana from Frozen turn out at Newbury's oldest store.

“Groups of friends were attaching baubles in between sips of gin, and there were both families and couples getting in the festive spirit.”

Venues were at full capacity throughout the day, with some workshops running out of supplies by noon.

Cupcake Decorating at Waterside Youth Centre, led by Colline’s Kitchen, ran out of ingredients and had to re-stock, as did Santa’s sweet supply, which needed re-filling by 1pm at the Grotto based at Parkway Shopping.

Mr Green Grinch and a Frozen Princess also visited Newbury’s oldest store, Barry Forkin-Toomers.

The BID has revealed that footfall was up by 16 per cent on the previous Saturday, recording total visitor numbers of nearly 35,000.

This meant the town centre experienced one of its busiest days in nearly three years, topped only by the final two Saturdays before Christmas in 2019.

It helped to ensure that last week was the first full week since before the pandemic hit in March 2020 when footfall exceeded normal levels.

Newbury BID operations manager Alison Drummond said: “We were delighted to see such significant footfall in Newbury town centre because of our Christmas lights switch-on festival.

“This is the first time we have delivered this event as a team, as last year we went down the virtual route.

“We’re chuffed to hear that restaurants were fully booked, and Christmas gifts were flying off the shelves of our local shops, which ultimately fulfils the key purpose for the event; to bring in town centre custom for our local businesses whilst giving visitors a fabulously festive free day out.”

Visit Newbury’s next event is the Victorian Christmas Fayre, taking place from Friday, December 3, to Sunday, December 5.

For a list of all events taking place in Newbury town centre and beyond this Christmas, visit https://visitnewbury.org.uk/christmas

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