District towns spread some Christmas light

Christmas Lights in Huntingdon
PICTURE: Patrick Kadewere

Christmas Lights in Huntingdon PICTURE: Patrick Kadewere - Credit: Patrick Kadewere

There will be light across Huntingdonshire during the festive season as town centres dig deep to bring some Christmas cheer.

Traditional ceremonies across Huntingdonshire for turning on the festive illuminations are being scrapped or cut to a minimum this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, although the district’s towns will still be lit up.

Events usually attract big crowds to enjoy entertainment, but organisers have said they can not ensure social distancing.

Christmas lights organisers in St Ives have launched an ambitious crowdfunding plan in a bid to make this year’s display as good as ever - and are trying to raise at least an extra £5,000.

Michael Burke, one of the organisers, says the lights will cost an estimated £7,000 on top of the initial £25,000.

“The amount of money needed to be able to pull together this year‘s Christmas lights display is almost £25,000. The generous grant kindly given by the town council helps hugely to provide festive cheer to the town centre this Christmas.

“Organisers had hoped to introduce a number of new lights and to improve on previous years displays. However, fund-raising efforts have been blighted by not being able to raise money in the usual ways and along with many other repairs and alterations and safety features to consider, things have become slightly more costly than originally thought.”

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The group has been talking to residents and businesses and wanted to develop the display of lights.

“Now more than ever, our town, our residents need something to look forward to. We have opened a Just Giving page which has been receiving donations.”

Katie Williams, from St Neots lights, said: “St Neots Town Council is unable to put on the usual Christmas lights switch-on event this year. However, we will still be ensuring St Neots is lit up for the festive season with our glorious Christmas lights and festive attractions to enjoy whilst shopping in the town centre. We are focussing on supporting our local businesses and we urge residents to ‘think local’ when Christmas shopping this year.”

Despite the lack of a switch-on there will be three Christmas themed farm and craft markets planned for November 28 and December 12 and 19, regular market traders, new additions selling street food, mulled wine, Christmas trees, crafts and gifts celebrating all things #madeinstneots, together with carol singers and Christmas characters to celebrate the season. There will also be additional attractions on non-market days.

Ramsey will also be lit - but the turn-on ceremony, which attracted 3,500 people last year, will not take place.

Mayor Steve Corney said: “We are not having a lights ceremony this year for obvious reasons but we want people to have something and we are urging businesses to go to town on their displays to cheer people up a little bit.”

He said lights organisers wanted to give people something to look forward to next year.

Philip Peacock, town clerk at Huntingdon, said: “I am afraid we will not be having the Christmas lights ceremony this year - but the lights will still be going up along the High Street and places like St Mary’s Church, All Saints and Sainsburys.

“We are also looking to put some extra lights in the High Street as well,” he said.

Angela Makey, whose sons own Niche Comics and Bookshop in Huntingdon High Street, urged local independent businesses, which had put a lot of effort into making their shops safe for customers, to get involved buy creating their own displays.

“We are excited about celebrating Christmas locally this year and making a festive shop window at Niche Comics and Bookshop,” she said.

“Now so many people are working and getting out and about locally It is even more important independent businesses like ours join together in the festivities for our local community.”

Godmanchester Town Council said: “We are planning on erecting a Christmas tree in mid-November and the Christmas lights will be turned on on December 1.