There was no doubting that Christmas had truly arrived in Harleston on Saturday, as well over a thousand people filled the streets for the annual festive lights switch-on.
From the outset of the Street Market in the morning, the crowds continued to grow across the town, as visitors flocked to the shops and stalls, the Bazaar at St John’s Church and Santa’s Grotto, while street performers entertained the passers-by throughout.
As the night skies set in, a candlelit procession of singers and people carrying specially-made paper lanterns led the way to the official switch on, which was carried out by community stalwart Carol Wiles MBE, along with David Charles and Glen Philpott from the Harleston Cornucopia, who helped fund this year’s town Christmas tree.
Nicky Stainton, from the civic group Harleston’s Future, which organised the event, told the Diss Express: “The turnout was very good. We had a lot of comments saying it was a really good atmosphere and felt like a really great community event.
“It’s about the local people who were making it happen.
“A lot of businesses who talked to us say they had a really good day. The hotels and the pubs were packed.
“I think it (the switch-on) is getting bigger.
“It’s always been well supported, but word is spreading that this (Harleston) is a place to come.”
In the morning, visitors packed into the Market Place for some early Christmas shopping, with vendors selling everything from local produce, handmade crafts and gifts, festive food, Christmas garlands and wreaths.
Entertainment during the afternoon was provided by the likes of Victorian gentleman Nathaniel Howell on his penny farthing bicycle, rustic dancing group The Molly Men, and DJs from Park Radio, as youngsters also got to enjoy children’s rides, themed trails around the town, and window display competitions.