A huge glowing and smoke breathing mechanical dragon, musical performances, late night shopping and more lit up Buckingham town centre for the annual Christmas Light Switch On event.
Gwynhaff the dragon from Festive Road was a great success, with children able to stroke and interact with the dragon, which moved around the event by elf & cycle power.
Three fantastic musical performances took place from the main stage, with Buckingham Stagecoach performing Christmas songs and scenes, Great Horwood Silver band playing carols and Christmas songs and The Buckingham School singing songs from Frozen in a sneak preview of their upcoming school musical.
The event was opened by the Mayor of Buckingham, Cllr. Anja Schaefer and the Town Crier, Patrick Laws alongside two fabulous festive stilt walkers who roamed the event. The lights were switched on a 5.30pm, with a huge crowd of families young and old enjoying the new, earlier switch on time. The lights were turned on by the Mayor of Buckingham and the four Mayor’s Christmas Card contest winners: George, Yukthi, Martha and Millie.
The Buckingham Table also kick started their annual festive fund raising with a visit and The Bucks Radio Bear popped in to say hello and the Buckingham Chantry Chapel offered a warm space and craft activities for everyone to you.
This year the Christmas Lights Switch On event moved to a Thursday – the traditional date for Buckingham Late Night Shopping. The Late Night Shopping retailers included: Smith & Clay, Bea & Aud Lifestyle, Sweet Autumn, Greetings Plus, The Caravin Wine Shop, Dandy Lions Boutique, Cornwall Place Kitchen, Finca El Monte, The Nimble Thimble, Pasha Fashion, The Courtyard at No6, The Beauty Box, FNH Charity Vintage Shop and Howes The Florist the biggest turnout of local retailers staying open for late night shopping in recent years and a fantastic opportunity to showcase the range of shops in Buckingham.
A pop up Christmas Market also made a comeback to the event, with the cattle pens area lit with festoon lights for one night only and stuffed full of stalls with festive treats to try and buy, from handmade crafted reindeer, to beautiful jewellery, accessories, licensed bars and street food. Stalls included: Alec’s Angels, Blossoming Boutique, Ches & Co, Crafted by P, The King’s Head, The Grand Junction Bar & Beech Hut, Love Betsy, Mint & Dove, NSPCC, Oh So Dough, Rudolph & Friends, Stanley’s Homemade, Elelta Bijoux, Bathroomatic, Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity, The Wildlife Trust and Working4Wildlife.
This year the Town Council decided to focus on improving accessibility at the event, with a covered accessible stage viewing area for wheelchair users or those with mobility problems – the area was very well used right until the end of the event at 7pm. A brand new Quiet Zone gazebo was also added offering a quiet space to rest or take part in some gentle activities, including Christmas colouring. Sensory toys and ear defenders was also available if required.
Cllr. Robin Stuchbury, Chair of the Town Centre & Events Committee, said that: “Buckingham town Council Christmas lights switch on was very well attended with so many families gathered together in our town centre, the Events Committee and Officers worked closely together to ensure a successful evening, and I’d like to thank all who supported this event. I must say, I rather enjoyed the dragon with glowing lights and smoke. Don’t think we’ve ever had a dragon in the middle of Buckingham before, and of course, we were also blessed with really good weather to listen to all the young people who performing in our town centre.”