People in their thousands flocked to Christchurch in beautiful winter weather on Saturday (30 November) for the annual Christmas Festival, with the later lights switch-on giving more time for Christmas shopping.
Due to concerns of overcrowding in previous years, this year Father Christmas and his reindeer paraded down the High Street at 4.30 with the Christmas lights switch-on taking place at 6pm.
Paul Riley, chairman of the Christmas Festival organising committee, said: “The separation of the reindeer parade and the switch-on worked really well, allowing more people to see Father Christmas as he passed down the High Street and making it easier for the crowds who collected later to see the lights being switched on.
“This year’s festival has been a great success with the festival market and the craft market in the Priory church seeing a huge number of visitors. Hundreds of families also queued to see Father Christmas and his reindeer outside the Priory before coming back to the High Street to see the switch-on.”
Panto stars from Bournemouth Pavilion’s production of Aladdin – Scott Maslen, Chris Jarvis and Bobby Crush – joined Heart FM’s Zoe Hanson and the Mayor of Christchurch, Cllr John Lofts, for the countdown to the switch-on from the Mayor’s Parlour.
Paul Riley added: “We’re very grateful to all the businesses who sponsored this year’s festival. Much of the funds raised to be able to bring the reindeer to town comes from a raffle organised amongst local businesses and we would like everyone who took part for playing their part in making the event a success.”