Silent nights will not stop the shine of Christmas lights

Christmas lights switch ons and carol concerts have been replaced with silent nights in Shropshire’s towns and villages this winter.

Bridgnorth moved early to cancel its big family switch on event, but lights instead went on with a virtual ceremony held last week
Bridgnorth moved early to cancel its big family switch on event, but lights instead went on with a virtual ceremony held last week

The coronavirus pandemic has put paid to most of the popular celebrations to launch the festive season with social distancing concerns and a second lockdown meaning councils have been unable to allow crowds to come to their town squares and gather.

But towns will still be merry and bright throughout the county, while some carol singing activities have survived.

In Shrewsbury, the annual carol concert and switch on was cancelled, but the town is having a virtual event instead for the first-time ever.

Residents have been encouraged to send 10-second videos of themselves switching their lights on at home, to be featured in a showreel.

Those that do could be in line to win a £50 Marks and Spencer voucher.

Shrewsbury shopping centres manager Kevin Lockwood urged people to send their videos in to Shrewsbury Shopping on Facebook or @shrewsbury_shopping on Instagram.

“We’re all in need of a little Christmas magic right now,” he said.

“This year we’ve sadly not been able to do our normal Shrewsbury town Christmas Lights Switch-on, but just because we can’t all meet up and watch as the town’s festive lights go on, doesn’t mean we can’t have an online switch on.

“All videos are needed by Wednesday, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of putting the tree and decs up already then we are providing you with the perfect excuse.”

There is also a Doorstep Carols event on December 16, at which households can tune into BBC Radio Shropshire and have a sing-along with their neighbours.

Telford’s big switch on event in the town centre was also cancelled, but bright lights and decorations were installed early, on November 14, to give shoppers a lift.

Glynn Morrow, manager at Telford Centre, said: “This year has been very difficult for everyone in the community.

“We are extremely grateful for the support from our shoppers and to the businesses who have worked so closely with us to ensure the centre could reopen under our new measures.

"We know how important Christmas is and would like to show our gratitude by ensuring shoppers can still celebrate the festive season at Telford.”

Residents of St Georges in Telford were given assurances that there will be a display, despite their main event on December 4 being cancelled.

Stephen Handley, a member of the St Georges Partnership, posted on Facebook: “The lights are still going up, it’s just the actual event that is cancelled.

"The partnership is looking at alternative ideas and will let people know as soon as things are discussed and clarified.”

Cleobury Mortimer Town Council said it was “determined” to dress the town in bright lights, despite not being able to hold an official switch on.

They will be installed between late November and early December.

And it is a similar story in Bishop’s Castle. Mayor Grant Perry said: “A number of online events such as a video of the Castle Carols, an advent calendar as well as competitions and prizes are planned. Residents are advised to keep an eye on the various social media channels.”

Oswestry councillors insist that Christmas definitely isn’t cancelled in the town.

The lights switch on and the Christmas Live late night shopping and fun fair event had to be shelved.

It is hoped there could be a series of small festive markets to boost the economy, pending government guidance.

Bridgnorth moved early to cancel its big family switch on event, but lights instead went on with a virtual ceremony held last week.

The town normally has market stalls and crowds milling around ahead of the switch-on.

It is hoped some kind of Christmas event may yet be held if shops are allowed to reopen.

Councillor Sarah Barlow chair of Bridgnorth Town Council’s events committee, said: “It would have been foolish to put on an evening that would bring crowds into the town in the light of the current situation and the need for social distancing.”

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