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Thousands turn out to see Santa switch on Ilkley's Christmas lights

An estimated 4000 people came out to watch Santa switch on Ilkley’s new Christmas lighting scheme at 5pm last Saturday.

The Bradford Concert Band played a programme of seasonal music at the bandstand for people to enjoy whilst visiting The Ilkley Real Food Market. Business was brisk for the 13 local food and produce traders who had set up their stalls around the band stand. There were long queues at David Lishman’s hot dog stall and the seasonal mulled wine served by Betty’s was as popular as ever.

Nick Hancock, presenter of Stray FM Breakfast Show, hosted a short programme of entertainment by local children’s groups. Gathering crowds were treated to an impressive display by Ilkley Gymnastics Club. This was followed by junior members of the Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society performing a selection of songs from their forthcoming production of ‘The Sound of Music’.

The Reverend Rebecca Topham then gathered in her small flock of excited ‘sheep’ and gave a brief address. The entertainment concluded with a song and dance medley of festive music performed by the children of Performance Dance Studio.

The moment everyone had been waiting for was rapidly approaching. Isabel Ashman, Ilkley Town Crier, led the children’s procession from the Memorial Gardens and along the Grove. Out of the darkness a white carriage with two elegant white horses, carrying Santa and his four little helpers appeared. Guiseley Brass Band played Christmas music and carols whilst Santa walked round and greeted children in the crowds.

At 5pm Ilkley Town Mayor, Councillor Steve Butler, welcomed everyone. Santa came forward and pushed the plunger and the Ilkley lights shone brightly.

A film show was put on to help pass the time whilst parents and children queued patiently for up to two hours to visit Santa in his Grotto.

Ilkley Town Councillor Jennifer Souter said: “Particular thanks go to Booths Supermarket for supplying the balloons and confectionery that were handed out to the children and also to Ilkley Carnival for contributing towards the cost of the Christmas tree. Thanks also go to Rotary and 41 Club for their assistance throughout the afternoon and all the other volunteers who gave their time so generously.

“Everyone at Ilkley Town Council would like to wish you a joyous Festive Season and all the best for 2019.”

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