On a crisp winter day thousands of people got into the Christmas spirit yesterday (Sunday) at the festive market and lights switch on in Stamford.
Stamford town centre was filled with about 80 stalls selling crafts, gifts and a vast array of festive food. The stalls lined Ironmonger Street and High Street.
Throughout the day activities took place in Red Lion Square including the singing of carols by choirs from St Gilbert’s Primary School and Malcolm Sargent Primary School leading up to the lights switch on at 4pm.
As the sun set Stamford mayor Brian Sumner and Father Christmas left Santa’s grotto and rode on a sleigh, provided by the Stamford and District Kiwanis, through the centre of the market into Red Lion Square.
There the pair were joined on stage by six-year-old Hannah Gonzalez-Ruiz, who was selected to help turn on the town’s lights after a countdown by the hundreds of people who packed around the tree at the centre of the square.
This year’s tree came from the Burghley Estate and was cut down and brought to Stamford by RAF Wittering personnel.
On Sunday there was also face painting, Shetland ponies to meet and a small funfair in Sheep Market.
The event was organised by Stamford Town Council and events committee chairman Sue Sandall (Ind) said: “It was really a children’s day, there was a permanent queue at Santa’s grotto it was so popular, and that is really what Christmas is all about.”
Coun Sandall said the she was pleased the event also attracted a large number of new visitors to the town. She added that following the success of the festival there is already talk of holding a bigger event next year.
Amongst the performances on the Rutland Radio stage at this year’s Christmas Festival were members of the Wildcats Post 16 Academy and Wildcats Theatre School
Jasmine Skelding, 15, from Stamford and Chloe Taylor, 16, from Stamford, sang two songs, Love Somebody and Mistletoe.
Members of Wildcats also supported Santa in his grotto by becoming elves and helping children write their letters to Father Christmas.
They also walked with the town crier through the high street talking to children along the way.
In addition to the Christmas Festival, retailers from St Mary’s Street and St Mary’s Hill have teamed up for extra late night shopping events this year.
The first event took place on Thursday night and the next will be held on Thursday, December 12, when more than 40 shops on the two streets and the nearby lanes will stay open until 8pm.
Stores in St Mary’s Street and St Mary’s Hill will be entering their customers into a raffle on Thursday, December 12, to win a hamper of gifts from the streets’ retailers. Tickets will be drawn at 8pm in Paradise Found in St Mary’s Street.
Anyone looking for Christmas gifts should also pop into town this Saturday, when many businesses in Stamford will be giving one-day only offers as part of the Love Stamford loyalty card scheme. To find out more visit www.lovestamford.com