Santa ditches sleigh for spaceship to lead lantern festival
Thousands packed the streets of Ellesmere for the town's popular winter festival combining the old and the new.
Santa ditched his sleight for firstly a traditional narrowboat for his arrival at the Wharf along the canal, before transferring to a futuristic space ship to make his way into the town centre.
The rocket led the spectacular lantern parade by the Fizzgigs art group, one of the highlights of Friday's festival.
Complete with antlers and dubbed Rudolph the rocket was created by Fizzgigs member, Peter Cartlidge. Families joined the parade with the lanterns they made in workshops leading up to the event.
Ellesmere’s mayor, Councillor Anne Wignall, led a minute’s silence in tribute to the four Shrewsbury teenage boys killed in a car crash in North Wales a few days earlier.
It was followed by the switching- on of the town’s Christmas lights and Rotary’s Tree of Light by fashion shop owner Ismay Evans, a long-serving member of Ellesmere’s Chamber of Commerce, which organised the festival in partnership with the town council and other community organisations.
Children from Ellesmere primary school and the Cellar Church led carol-singing, with more festive music provided by the Mere Brass ensemble.
The market hall and adjoining streets were lined with stalls selling a large variety of gifts, craft-wear, street food and local produce.
Many shops stayed open late to welcome customers and visitors were able to enjoy rides on a funfair carousel on the town’s main car park.
A competition for the best window display was won by one of the Ellesmere’s newest businesses, the Quaintly British gift shop run by Julie Williams, with the long-established League of Friends’ charity shop as runner-up.
Friday's fun got underway with a fairground in the main car park and a special Market both in the Market Hall and in the streets. Stallholders reported a bustling trade throughout the evening and street food provided by local businesses also proved popular. Shops also stayed open late.
Ellesmere Town Council, one of those behind the festival said: "What an amazing Christmas Winter Festival. Thank you to everyone involved in making it so special and successful and to all who came along to enjoy it."