Bigger, brighter and better than ever: Newport Christmas light switch-on sees town filled with thousands of visitors
More people than ever showed for the Christmas lights switch-on in Newport town centre.
Newport's Christmas lights switch-on was bigger, better and brighter than ever on Friday, November 25, as thousands of people turned up to watch the town centre officially welcome in the festive season.
The town council-led event drew an unprecedented number of spectators to the High Street, while sponsorship from Henshall’s Insurance Brokers allowed the council to hire a larger stage with a better sound and lighting system than in previous years.
The town square stage ran a jam-packed programme of live entertainment from 5pm, with school choirs and local groups performing festive sets to the enthusiastic audience.
A parade, led by the Salvation Army Marching Band, left the Guildhall at 5.50pm and included nine-year-old Lexi Sumner, the Christmas Card Competition winner in the reindeer drawn sleigh.
The youngster, who is a pupil at SS Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School, was followed by the first sighting of the new town crier, David Stringer, with Mayor Ian Perry and the big man in red in the Rotary Lite sleigh.
The parade made its way through the crowds down the High Street to the stage area, where NOVA Pantomime Group and the cast of Aladdin were getting the crowd ready for the appearance of Santa and the official switch-on.
At 6pm, Lexi had the honour of lighting up the High Street with thousands of twinkling lights.
Councillor Perry, who took to the stage for the second time to welcome onlookers said everything went swimmingly.
He added: "It was a good turnout, I must thank everyone for coming out in the cold. I very much enjoyed being Lexi's assistant - she was very excited to be part of it.
"There were so many people queuing for food, I went home hungry - and that isn't a bad thing. I was very pleased to see all the businesses and vendors doing so well."
Not only was there plenty of festive entertainment to keep people of all ages engaged - with Santa and his sleigh, the reindeer, a living nativity and a fun fair on Lower Bar - but many of the local businesses, shops, cafes including the Newport Indoor Market got into the festive spirit and stayed open for late night shopping, many serving Christmas specials on the night.
The grand event was a sell-out for many businesses which stayed open late, including Pretty Puds and Immi's, while Novella Cocktail Bar sold out of mulled wine within the first hour.
Town clerk Jo Reay said: “The switch-on event is about bringing the community together to celebrate the countdown to Christmas with friends and family, and we were overwhelmed by the turnout and the positive feedback we’ve had over the weekend.
“This event is the culmination of months of planning and shows what an amazing community we have in Newport.”
Newport's Safer Neighbourhood Team, who were on foot patrol for the evening, said it was "great to see so many people in festive spirit and enjoying themselves".
Newport councillor Peter Scott said he was pleased to see the town so busy.
"Well done to Newport Town Council for delivering another successful event," he added.