Crowds turn out in force to see lights switch on festival

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Wetherby residents braved the rain and turned out in force to celebrate the big switch on of Christmas lights signalling the start of the festive season.

ITV Yorkshire weatherman Jon Mitchell did the honours and pressed the big button for the event which was sponsored by Manning Stainton estate agents.

A spokesman for the Wetherby Christmas Lights organisers said: “All in all we think we can safely say a fantastic night was had by all.

“We really must say thank you to all the volunteers involved in the organisation, especially our town elves who gather every year to make Wetherby a winter wonderland.”

Town Mayor Coun Galan Moss welcomed the swelling crowd and opened the festivities.

Coun Moss said: “I was very impressed with the number of people who turned out despite Jon Mitchell’s poor weather forecast.

“The turnout showed Wetherby’s appreciation for the hard work carried out by the team of volunteers who put up the magnificent displays each year.

“Sandra and I had a great evening; we enjoyed looking round the stalls, hosting Jon and most importantly seeing all the smiling faces.”

Just For Fun Theatre opened the show with over 30 children throwing snowballs into the crowd.

Deighton Gates Primary School were pitch perfect throughout their performance, followed by the Martin House Choir of carers.

Manning Stainton''Photograph by Richard Walker - www.imagenorth.net

Manning Stainton''Photograph by Richard Walker - www.imagenorth.net

And Ripon’s Got Talent winner Freddie Cleary delighted with his performance for the second year running.

The spokesman said: “Our host, Alex B Cann brought our star guest for the evening, Jon Mitchell onto the stage and after a little crowd warm up it was time for our Town Mayor to join them for the grand finale.

“In true Switch On tradition, it wouldn’t be the same without The City of Leeds Pipe Band marching through the Shambles as the large crowd parted for the final act of the evening.”

The evening also featured a commercial aspect with a variety of stalls.

“We were delighted to welcome a wider Yorkshire selection to the festive market this year with lots of new stalls including Costello’s Bakery, Knead n Feed, Wetherby Brew Co and Priory Vodka – all Wetherby-based businesses bringing a truly local element to the market,” added the spokesman.

And next up in Wetherby town centre is the Dickensian Christmas Market on Sunday December 9, from 9am-3pm..

As well as stalls there will be the Lions Santa’s Sleigh, reindeer choirs and much more.

And inside the town Hall there will be a Christmas Craft Fair. Santa arrives to his Grotto at 10am.