CHRISTMAS: Lights nearly ready for action

The Alnwick Christmas Lights Committee at work on an overhead display in Bondgate Within on Sunday.
The Alnwick Christmas Lights Committee at work on an overhead display in Bondgate Within on Sunday.

Alnwick Christmas Lights committee is well under way with preparations for the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights display, which takes place at 7pm on Friday, November 21, in Alnwick Market Place, performed by The Duchess of Northumberland, aided by a local child chosen from Alnwick first schools by draw.

Each year, the challenges increase, but our team of unpaid volunteers, who have been working on this since May, expect to mount the normal large-scale displays around Alnwick together with festive, low-energy shop-lighting bulbs wherever possible in the town centre.

As with many voluntary organisations today, funding is tight and we still depend mainly on donations from local businesses, institutions and individuals to meet our annual £12,000 budget for equipment, energy, premises rent and plant hire, £2,000 of which is provided by a generous grant from Alnwick Town Council. However, to meet the energy costs and supply of our several kilometres of bulbs, we require shops and businesses where these are mounted to pay a support cost of £8.50 per metre.

In previous years, we have often placed bulbs where our expectation of receiving payment was low or non-existent, in order to maintain the continuity of the display. Unfortunately, budgetary pressure means that we cannot continue this policy and we will now only display the bulbs where there is a firm agreement for payment in place.

This is often no reflection on shop staff in certain businesses, who are constrained by the policies of their employers, but we do not have a choice either, so there will be more gaps this year than in previous years.

We are most grateful, as ever, for the support we obtain from all quarters, too numerous to list here, and we were very pleased to accept this year a generous donation from The Alnwick Garden, who also have free festive family activities planned the same evening, after ours. We are very much aided by Alnwick Lions on switch-on night, who have Santa available straight after the lights come on.

There will also be music provided by the excellent Alnwick Playhouse Concert Band and singers from local choirs are invited to come forward and help lead the carol singing in front of the stage from around 6.15pm.

The stage is to be constructed this year by Robert Porteous, Roofing Contractor, and Jimmy Slater of Slater Entertainment will manage the Market Place stalls and traders invited there, assisted by Round Table, with Philip Angier installing the sound system.

Tree decoration by Alnwick First School children (thanks to Karen Larkin) will start around the same time and there will be cafés open and other Market Place amusements. We hope for kind weather and another great turnout of local people.

Gordon Castle,

Chairman,

Alnwick Christmas Lights Committee