Pictures by David Easen
Christmas cheer came to Tamworth town centre on Sunday when thousands of people enjoyed an afternoon of festive entertainment for the whole family.
The yuletide season was kicked off in style with a Christmas market, fairground rides, nativity, walkabout characters, balloon painting, craft activities, face painting and a variety of live performances from the Touch FM stage in St Editha’s Square.
An estimated 8,000 people flocked to the town centre to enjoy the free festive fun which culminated in the switching on of the lights at 5pm by winner of the Mayor’s Christmas card competition Daisy-Mae Baker from Dosthill Primary School, who did the honours with a little help from guest star Peppa Pig and the main man, Father Christmas.
Only in its second year, the festive market was a huge success with dozens of stalls lining George Street, offering a range of Christmas delights from seasonal local produce to gifts, novelties and crafts.
Shoppers shopped to the merry sounds of the Wilnecote St John Brass Band while children had their faces painted free of charge and enjoyed the nativity under the Town Hall by members of St Francis Church.
Children also took part in craft activities hosted by Tamworth Community Together CIC in Ankerside Shopping Centre and the former Buxton and Bonnet unit in Middle Entry, where hundreds of free glow sticks were handed out to youngsters who had made their own lanterns in sessions held throughout the community earlier this month.
Peppa Pig proved a huge hit with her appearances in the shopping centre before she was welcomed in St Editha’s Square by thousands of excitable children; many of whom had specially donned their Peppa Pig hats and scarves in preparation.
The square itself was buzzing with festive cheer – not to mention fake snow – as members of Tamworth Rotary Club handed out Christmas hats, while youngsters enjoyed a Christmas treasure hunt and fairground rides.
Entertainment was provided throughout with live performances from local acts including Urban Fusion Dance Company, Fired Up Theatre, Just Perform, Glen Chevannes and Dancers, The Jays Vintage Tribute, Matilda Pratt, musicians Brindley-Hunt, aka Barry Hunt and Bryan Brindley, the Positive Labels project represented by budding young stars Nathan Brookes and Jude Britton, Twin Cities and Tamworth Panto Company before Tamworth Voices ended the proceedings with a Christmas sing-along.
In St Editha’s Church more than 70 Christmas trees decorated by a range of groups, businesses and charities were on display in this year’s Christmas Tree Festival which raises much-needed funds for the Church. Prizes for the best trees will be presented during the Christmas Fayre at the Church Hall in College Lane on December 5.
People took to social media during and after the event with their comments. The Jays tweeted “Christmas begins in Tamworth, so glad for our lovely hats – we had great fun!” while Lee Bates of Tamworth Community Together CIC said: “Great time at Tamworth Christmas lights switch-on. Great atmosphere”.
Glen Chevannes tweeted: “Fab afternoon performing at the Christmas lights event with Jenny and my dancers Daisy and Annabelle.”
Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Maureen Gant, said: “The Christmas lights switch-on is yet another popular event in Tamworth’s busy programme of free entertainment and it is now even bigger and better, thanks to the addition of the festive market and a range of activities taking place throughout the town centre.
“Once again the committee of organisers did us proud with another fantastic and enjoyable afternoon of fun which really got everyone in the festive mood. I’m also really impressed with Daisy-Mae; she did a great job switching on the lights and has even decided to donate the £50 Hobbycraft voucher she won in my Christmas card competition, courtesy of Tamworth Community Together CIC, to her school.
“I love Christmas, it’s a wonderful time of year and the event was the perfect way to start the festive countdown.”