FATHER Christmas will pay Ilkley an early visit on Saturday, November 25 when he returns to switch on the town’s Christmas Lights. The whole afternoon will be a build up to the exciting count-down at 5pm.

The Grove will be closed to traffic from 1pm. For the first time at this event, and for an early taste of festive fare, the Ilkley Fine Food and Local Produce Market will be situated adjacent to the bandstand between 2pm and 6pm. This will be a smaller but perfectly formed version of the popular monthly Real Food Ilkley Market. As usual Betty’s will serve mulled wine and seasonal snacks.

Fun for all the family begins at 1pm. Chaired by Stray FM’s Breakfast Show presenter Nick Hancock, there is a lively programme of entertainment. First, there will be popular and seasonal music from Bradford Metropolitan Concert Band. They will be followed at 3pm by Guiseley Brass Band (who will play throughout the afternoon); performances from Rock Your Socks Off at 3.30pm; The Upstagers at 3.50pm; That Sing Thing from 4.15pm and Performance Dance School at 4.40pm. Balloons will be handed out to lucky members of the crowd.

The switch on will take place after the big countdown at Christchurch on The Grove at 5pm. This will be preceded by the traditional children’s procession assembling in Whitton Croft Road (behind the Town Hall). The magnificent horse drawn (sledge-like) carriage, lead by the Town Crier, will move off at 4.50pm prompt carrying Father Christmas and his little helpers. Mums and dads are more than welcome to join the parade.

After the switch on Father Christmas will be pleased to meet all children in his Grotto inside Christchurch and hear what they would like for Christmas.

In organising this event, Ilkley Parish Council wish everyone a very Happy Christmas. Cllr Jennifer Souter, the lead councillor who has been planning this for several months, told the Gazette: “I would like to thank all those volunteers who give freely of their time to make this afternoon of fun such a success.” She also expressed, on behalf of the Council, their warmest appreciation to the sponsors. Booths Supermarkets has been very generous in helping to arrange the carriage and contributing towards the cost of the balloons. William H. Brown Estates have supported the event, most notably with their contribution towards the cost of Father Christmas's carriage.

Come as early as you can on November 25 to enjoy an afternoon of fun before the lights switch-on at 5pm.