The Christchurch Christmas Festival took place on Saturday 1st December and was a great success – with thousands of visitors turning out to enjoy the Christmas market and spectacular lights turn-on.
Reaffirming ICM’s commitment to promoting the education, welfare and interest of children, young people and adults, the festival was sponsored by ICM Chairman Dr Alistair Somerville Ford who attended the event along with staff from the Institute and their families.
Starting at 10am and lasting right through until 7pm, residents and visitors were treated to a wide range of activities and events. The main focal point was the town’s high street which hosted the Christmas market, featuring stalls serving delicious food and drink, as well as unique gift ideas.
For the adults, live entertainment was provided throughout the day, with appearances from bands including Swing Unlimited, the Lighthouse Band and Not Just Sax. Younger visitors, meanwhile, enjoyed storytelling sessions, party tricks by IVO the Clown and had the chance to play on a giant bouncy castle positioned at the top of the high street.
Santa comes to town
The event’s highpoint was the arrival of Santa on the back of a fire truck decorated with tinsel and Christmas decorations. He was driven through the crowds before joining the Mayor of Christchurch, Cllr Josephine Spencer, and guests on the balcony of the Mayor’s Parlour for the lights switch-on.
At approximately 4.30pm, the crowds outside the parlour counted down to the switch-on; and Cllr Spencer and Dominic Lees-Bell from Swish of the Curtain drama school pulled the switch together – lighting up the high street and the giant Christmas tree.
Thanks to Dr Somerville Ford’s generous donation, visitors then had the chance to make their way to the Priory to pet two reindeer – flown in especially for the day. Dr Ford found the event hugely enjoyable: “I am so glad to have had the chance to sponsor the festival and I was extremely pleased to see so many people enjoying themselves – particularly those who lined up to view the reindeer. I very much hope that the lights switch-on will be enjoyed by generations for many more years to come.”
By Natasha Piscitelli