COLD winds and wintery showers did not deter large crowds from attending the switch on of Ilkley’s Christmas lights last Saturday.

For the first time, The Ilkley Fine Food and Local Produce Market took part in the event. Located close to the bandstand, local traders selling speciality food and drink enjoyed brisk business. In addition, hot drinks and cakes were sold by Weatherspoons and the ever popular Mulled Wine and mince pies were available from Betty’s to help keep out the winter chill.

Seasonal music was played throughout the afternoon by Bradford Metropolitan Concert Band and Guiseley Brass Band.

Nick Hancock, presenter of Stray FM’s Breakfast Show hosted a programme of musical entertainment provided by local groups. The recently formed male voice choir ‘Rock Your Socks Off’ gave a rousing start to the afternoon. They were followed by Ilkley based ‘The Upstagers’ who gave a short song and dance performance. The young singers from ‘That Sing Thing’ treated the gathering crowds to a programme of well-known songs. Last but not least came the young children from Performance Dance School dressed in their scarlet and white capes delighting the crowds with their medley of festive songs.

Ably assisted by a rather shy lion from Dan’s Den, the Rev Roberta Topham, minister at Christchurch, told a story and led a short prayer before handing back to Nick Hancock who heralded the long awaited arrival of Santa Claus.

By now the crowds on The Grove had swelled to over five thousand people. Ilkley Town Crier, Isabel Ashman led the horse drawn carriage carrying Santa and his four little helpers, followed by excited children carrying balloons, to the entrance to Christchurch.

The Town Crier read the traditional Christmas proclamation before handing over to Parish Council chairman Stephen Butler who welcomed everyone and recited a topical poem he had written. He also thanked all those who had played some part in the organization of the event.

Then it was back to Nick Hancock who led the ‘great countdown’ to Santa pushing the red plunger down that lit up the whole Ilkley.

Santa then proceeded to his Grotto inside Christchurch where children queued patiently to tell him what they would like for Christmas.

The Parish Council would like to express their thanks to William H.Brown estate agents and Booths Supermarkets for their financial support. They also wish the people of Ilkley a Merry Festive Season and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Plans are already being made for next year and the Parish Council extend a cordial invitation to all for Saturday, November 24, 2018.