Thousands turn out to mark start of festive season in Fareham as Christmas lights switched on
CHRISTMAS was in the air as the festive lights were switched on to mark the start of the season in Fareham.
Thousands gathered in West Street for the spectacle throughout the day before the lights were turned on at 5.30pm this evening after a countdown to mark the return of the popular event.
The lights switch-on was cancelled last year due to Covid-19 restrictions but people were keen to make up lost ground as families lined the street.
As the lights were switched on people cheered before dancers took to the stage to entertain those packed into the street.
Leader of Fareham Borough Council, councillor Sean Woodward said: ‘Last year was nothing so this is incredible. Crowd wise it gets bigger and more popular every year.
‘We’ve had really good footfall for local traders and businesses with around 100 stalls so we hope they have been able to raise their profile.
‘It’s very difficult to think about how people would feel about coming out in big crowds again. But it’s been better than ever, we’ve had thousands here. It’s been brilliant to see and a nice start to Christmas.’
Despite there being no fireworks this year, there was no shortage of things to do for people of all ages including a competition for the best dressed circus performer.
Market stalls aplenty sold unique and handmade Christmas goodies along with delicious food stalls and of course a festive tipple or two.
Amanda Tremlett, who runs Port Solent based Preloved and Upcycled with her business partner Nicki Powell, was doing a roaring trade.
She said: ‘It’s been a lovely atmosphere and very busy. There were lots of people here enjoying themselves.
‘There’s probably more people because they weren’t able to have it last year. It’s been very impressive and we’ll definitely be back here again.’
Mike and Sue Love, who run The Tree Top Candle Company in Cowplain, said: ‘It was really busy, especially later in the afternoon.
‘It’s been good to see everyone getting in the festive spirit. It’s been a fun atmosphere with children dancing. We were here a few years ago and it seems more focused on families now.
‘There’s been a fantastic turnout and lots of passing trade for us.’
West Street was also treated to performances from unicyclists, stilt walkers, jugglers and acrobats dazzled the crowds while there were exciting performances on stage from local groups throughout the afternoon.
Free children's activities proved a winner with face painting, Christingle making and the chance to meet the reindeer.
A circus skills workshop and juggling shows also kept the children entertained along with fun fair rides including a helter-skelter, swing boats, chair-o-planes, mirror maze and carousel.
Gav Williams, 44, decided to make the trip from Portsmouth with his eight-year-old son Danny. He said: ‘It’s been really fun with lots to do, especially for the kids. It’s been an incredible turnout. I think people missed it last year.’