Bury St Edmunds is all set to be bathed in festive multi-coloured lights this evening at the annual Christmas light switch-on celebration.
The Business Improvement District, Our Bury St Edmunds, has organised a packed programme of entertainment and activities to get everyone in the Christmas spirit ahead of the lights being switched on at 7pm.
They will be switched on by British Heart Foundation volunteer, Lou Hovell, who has given nearly 9,000 hours of her time to the charity and has been recognised with its Anglia Region Volunteer of the Year award.
Festivities kicked off at 3pm with stage entertainment outside Moyses’s Hall, fairground rides on Cornhill and Buttermarket and a range of fundraising stalls.
The popular penguins have already set up camp on Abbeygate Street, along with a baby reindeer and his mother, and despite the wind and rain, visitors are flocking to see them.
Jo Pepper, from Bury, said: “The animals are absolutely gorgeous and the children just love it. Despite the weather, we can’t not stay. We’ll definitely be here for the lights coming on.”
Chris Hayes, who is visiting from Texas, is also not going to let the weather spoil his fun.
“I’m hoping the rain is just a passing thing. I think it’s fantastic. We don’t have reindeer in Texas,” he said.
Entertainment will carry on until 8pm, with free parking in the town centre from 4pm.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, said: “The BID works really hard to make sure the town has a stunning selection of Christmas Lights and every year we look at ways in which we can make the evening more fun as we prepare for the festive season. A couple of weeks later we’ll also be unveiling our vintage dodgems Christmas attraction and in December Father Christmas is bringing his log-cabin Grotto to Charter Square.
“Father Christmas often makes an appearance for the Switch On ceremony but this year we’ve also enlisted the help of Lou. Our Bury St Edmunds recognises those who work hard for town centre organisations and we feel we’ve invited a truly inspiring person to switch on the lights.”
The arc shopping centre will also be getting in on the Christmas action with their own activities starting at 4pm in Charter Square.
Children will have the opportunity to design their own letters to Santa inside a giant inflatable Christmas pudding and have their face painted like a reindeer.
There will also be a side stall and a choir singing traditional Christmas tunes.
The activities are all free, but the shopping centre is asking visitors to donate to the My WiSH charity at West Suffolk Hospital, which is their charity of the year.
Colin Roberts, centre manager of the arc, said “This is another a great chance for families to come and enjoy our themed events; we have a fabulously fun activity lined up to keep your little ones busy and with the addition of the giant Christmas pudding and some naughty elves, we’re really excited!
“The kid’s events are always popular and it’s fantastic to be able to run them throughout the year, while supporting a great local charity such as My WiSH Charity.”