Festive spirit comes to town with lights switch on

Stabeck Xmas Lights 08. The crowd in Starbeck gather for the switch on of the Christmas light. AM281102f

Stabeck Xmas Lights 08. The crowd in Starbeck gather for the switch on of the Christmas light. AM281102f

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THE festive season arrived in Harrogate on Thursday night with the annual Christmas lights switch-on.

The two-hour event was held on the piazza at the front of the Victoria Shopping Centre, with a host of special guests lined up to take part.

The Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Les Ellington, was set to welcome Father Christmas to the stage to officially press the button and light up the surrounding streets.

Elsewhere, the Christmas lights will be switched on in Starbeck next Friday, November 25.

The festivities begin at 5pm and include a Santa’s Grotto bus organised by Transdev, hot food and drinks, a cake stall, a tombola and a raffle. Stalls are still available by calling Carol on 01423 883297.

The official switch-on is due to take place at around 7pm - but the Starbeck Gala committee, which organises the lights each year, has warned they will not be as impressive as last year’s display.

Chairman Jo Nolan said: “Unfortunately, even though we have had a couple of donations from Transdev and North Yorkshire County Council, the gala did well but not as well as last year and in the current financial times we’re unable to complete the display in Starbeck.

“Because of the Starbeck Community Grants last year we were awarded just over £2,000 and this year we might not be getting as much.”

She apologised for any disappointment, but urged people to make donations or offer their help to the committee so plans to improve and replace the lights in the future could go ahead.

She added: “Hopefully what we raise between now and Christmas will go into next year’s pot and they’ll be better than ever.”

Meanwhile, judging of the Christmas shop window competition is due to take place next Friday, November 25, at 4pm.

With criteria listed as illumination, innovation and spirit of Christmas, the entrants will be split into three categories - multi-national retailer, independent retailer and charity shop - with an award given to the best display in each.

Any retailers wishing to take part by making a donation to the Harrogate at Christmas fund can email treasurer@harrogateatchristmas.org or visit www.harrogateatchristmas.org by November 23.

l For full coverage of tonight’s switch-on, see next Friday’s Advertiser.