Portsmouth's Commerical Road Christmas lights switch-on hosted by Love Island star Amy Hart

WITH less than 40 days to Christmas, visitors to Portsmouth’s city centre have been getting in the festive mood – as Commercial Road’s Christmas lights switch-on event drew a large crowd.

By Richard Lemmer
Friday, 19th November 2021, 7:59 am

Hundreds of people gathered outside the former Debenhams store in Commercial Road for a Christmas market and a series of performances during the Christmas event.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Frank Jonas, and Kings Theatre panto Dame and creative director Jack Edwards were joined by fellow panto and Love Island star Amy Hart to switch on the dozens of silvery illuminations lining the busy street.

Amy said: ‘It’s been a crazy year, but we’re so excited to be back on stage at the Kings Theatre...and we’re so excited so many people have come out, with amazing performances.’

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The confettic canon which covers the crowd. Picture: Mike Cooter (181121)

For those performing in front of the large crowd, it marked a welcome return to the usual festive routine, which was disrupted last year due to Covid-19 rules.

Paulsgrove resident Carrie-Anne Fitzjohn, 40, who returned with her dance group for children, said: ‘We have done this for over ten years.

‘It feels more exciting this year having missed it last year.

‘I’m now feeling very Christmas-y.’

Amy Hart with Jack Edwards (who will be playing Dame Trot in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Kings Theatre), Lady Mayoress Patricia Jonas and Lord Mayor Frank Jonas prepare to press the plunger. Picture: Mike Cooter (181121)

Debbie Parker, 42, had the chance to once again see her 16-year-old and 11-year-old girls take part in the event.

She said: ‘It’s lovely - it’s starting to feel like Christmas. They love doing this. It was horrible when they missed out last year.’

George Hawkins, a 12-year-old street dancer with Surrender Dance Academy, was thrilled to return to event after missing out last year.

The Milton resident said: ‘I have only done this once before. I felt a bit sad missing out last year – because I love dancing in front of an audience.’

Crowds joining in with the singing. Picture: Mike Cooter (181121)

But with rising prices in shops and increasing bills has the spectre of inflation clouding the minds of some, with George’s mum feeling less excited about the prospect of Christmas spending.

The 40-year-old owner of a cleaning business said: ‘I am a bit apprehensive.

‘It’s the price of things. Being self-employed, I have lost a lot of business in lockdown.

‘Things are feeling a bit tight.’

Elf Mia Wright (9) (from the Surrender Dance Academy) sampling the sweets at the Christmas market. Picture: Mike Cooter (181121)

The Christmas lights in Palmerston Road Christmas will be switched on between 4pm and 6pm on Thursday, November 25.

A full list of Christmas lights events across the region can be found online here.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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Tye Hackman (18) with Kirstie Gray (18) who came to enjoy the entertainment. Picture: Mike Cooter (181121)
A family who came to enjoy the lights being turned on. Picture: Mike Cooter (181121)
Crowds joining in with the singing. Picture: Mike Cooter (181121)