Festive fun in Welwyn Garden City for Christmas lights switch-on

PUBLISHED: 13:12 24 November 2016 | UPDATED: 13:21 24 November 2016

Children from Theatre Train performing at the Welwyn Garden City Christmas light switch-on.

Children from Theatre Train performing at the Welwyn Garden City Christmas light switch-on.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Thousands thronged to Welwyn Garden City last week to see a local celebrity flick the switch on the festive season.

Thousands thronged to WGC last week to see a local celebrity flick the switch on the festive season.

The town centre on Thursday was transformed into a winter wonderland – the roads festooned with stalls, as joyous shrieks from fairground rides reverberated off the bunting-strewn buildings.

Wide-eyed children, closely followed by snap-happy parents, were also able to enjoy Santa visits, play areas, a reindeer enclosure and face painting.

Numerous shops were fundraising along Stonehills, while choirs, charities and bands performed on a stage outside the Howard Centre.

Mark Welch, 30, said the event highlighted local efforts to help charities, while his wife, Lisa, added: “It’s the perfect excuse for us all to get together and start feeling Christmassy.”

Food stalls congregated near Howardsgate, and offered hot dogs, burritos, mince pies and cakes.

Enjoying a pit stop in the warmth of Costa Coffee, mum-of-two Margaret Preston lauded the “fantastic mood in town”.

“What I think is so brilliant is people are talking to each other when they wouldn’t normally,” said the Applecroft School teacher.

“Everyone is smiling and wishing each other happy Christmas, there’s a lovely community feel.”

Numerous businesses remained open, and Waterstones’ Sarah Eames said: “You can see by the size of the crowd how many people it brings together.

“Especially in the climate of things going on in the world, it’s lovely to see the town and community coming together.”

Rolling Stones tribute act, The Rolling Clones, had heads nodding to classics like Honky Tonk Women, as excitement continued to snowball for the lights switch-on.

DIY SOS star Billy Byrne eventually did the honours – with help from competition winner Finn – which was met with rapturous applause.

“It’s just one of the proudest moments of my life to turn these lights on,” Billy told the WHT.

“I was born here, I live here, I’m so proud of this place.”

The event was organised by Welwyn Hatfield Council.

Councillor Bernard Sarson said: “I must say a massive thank you to everyone that organised, attended and took part in the WGC Christmas lights switch on.”

He added: “In spite of damp conditions, the event was a great occasion full of entertainment, food and festive fun to kick-start everyone’s Christmas.”

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