Lighting up time

The lantern parade in Norwich at the big Christmas light switch on

The lantern parade in Norwich at the big Christmas light switch on - Credit: Archant

Decorating our high streets with twinkling Christmas lights creates a fabulous festive atmosphere. Rachel Buller reports from Holt and around the county

illing the windows, Christmas in Holt is a magical time.

For years, thousands of people have flocked to the town for the annual switching on of the Christmas lights, travelling many miles to be part of this festive experience. But this year, the emphasis is very much on the people who live and work in Holt, and celebrating just what makes it so special.

Jamie Perry, from the Holt Lights Group, says: “We want the event to be all about community spirit, to bring people in the town together and also to showcase what we have on offer to visitors.

“There won’t be a celebrity turning on the lights, it will be all about local business, community groups, schools and residents. We won’t be asking for any direct donations from businesses to fund the town’s lights, but we will be encouraging people to decorate their own premises with lots of sparkly and fun Christmas decorations and displays, while maintaining the white light theme.”

At the centre of the big Christmas switch-on event on November 25 will be a beautiful lantern parade which will snake through the town, leaving the Community Hall at 5.30pm before arriving in the high street in time for the switch-on at 6pm. A firework display will follow.

“The lanterns will be available to buy around the town in the run-up to the event and on the night, and we want as many people as possible of all ages to join in. Set against the backdrop of Holt’s beautiful historic buildings, we think it will create a really magical, festive atmosphere,” says Jamie. “We have performers from the Thursford Spectacular providing on-street entertainment and we will be asking people to dress up as pantomime dames as well. Hopefully it will be quite a spectacle, complete with the firework finale.”

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Volunteers will be doing bucket collections on the night which, Jamie says, will help raise funds for future years.

“There will be no external traders allowed on the night. This year it will be all abut the local shops and businesses. We want people to discover the shops which stand here 365 days a year and are the lifeblood of the town. We will also have a window trail themed on the 12 days of Christmas which will run for six weeks and we hope that families will pick up a trail sheet and have fun exploring the nooks and crannies of the town, make a few discoveries and hopefully come back again.”

In Norwich this November, the city will be transformed into a festive wonderland. On Thursday, November 19, at 6pm, a lantern parade will weave through the streets from Norwich Cathedral to The Forum with Santa on his sleigh, followed by entertainment and live music. At 7pm the lights will be switched on outside City Hall by Norfolk’s own YouTube video blogging sensations Tanya Burr and Jim Chapman, who recently got married. Expect the crowds - when Tanya came to Jarrold’s this spring for a book signing the streets were packed with 800 people queuing to meet the vlogging star! The light switch-on night will end with a firework display over the city.

Father Christmas will arrive in Jarrold’s store on Sunday, November 29 at 11am, accompanied by his elves and other friends as he makes his way from The Forum to his grotto.

Our guide to where and when the Christmas lights will be switched on around the county:

THETFORD’S Christmas lights will be switched on in the Market Place on Friday, November 27, at 5pm. There will be festive events happening throughout the afternoon and evening, including a night market, Santa’s grotto and reindeer, fair rides and stalls.

DOWNHAM MARKET’S Christmas event, on Sunday, November 29, 2pm–6pm, features something for all the family, from food, drink and crafts stands to children’s activities, rides and entertainment, and of course the Santa fun run through the streets. This year a special guest will switch on the lights - a Minion, one of the colourful, lovable animated film characters.

SWAFFHAM’S market place will be taken over by festive fun on Sunday November 22. Father Christmas will be the guest of honour, arriving at 2pm, and there will be a Christmas market and entertainment throughout the afternoon before the big switch-on at 4.30pm.

HUNSTANTON’S Christmas Cracker on Sunday, November 29, is a day of family festive fun on The Green finishing with the Christmas lights switch-on. Do a spot of shopping at the wide variety of stalls, listen to live music and carol singing and visit Father Christmas.

CROMER hosts four days of festive events culminating in the switching on of the Christmas lights on Saturday, December 5, at 4.30pm. From December 2–5, St Peter and St Paul Church will host a Christmas Tree and Nativity Festival.

NORTH WALSHAM’S Christmas lights celebrations are on November 28. There will be entertainment throughout the day, with market stalls, a lantern parade, the opening of Santa’s grotto, North Norfolk Radio providing the music and plenty of food to sample.

In GREAT YARMOUTH, there will be an evening of entertainment to celebrate the lighting up of the Christmas tree and the town’s festive illuminations on Wednesday, November 25. The Heart FM stage will host live music before the station’s breakfast show presenters Dave Taylor and Heidi Secker hand over to the mayor to switch on the lights at 7pm, followed by a firework display. In neighbouring Gorleston, the Christmas lights will be switched on in the High Street on Sunday, November 29.

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