Huge crowds flocked to Ormskirk to enjoy the Christmas lights switch on extravaganza and started the festive season in fine style.
People of all ages enjoyed the packed programme of activities provided in Ormskirk Town Centre for Ormskirk's Christmas Gingerbread Market and Light Switch On.
Much-loved children's entertainer Mr Stix provided children's entertainment throughout the events and a wonderful gingerbread themed workshop was run by Magical Story Jars, as well as traditional Gingerbread decorating with Mr Thompson's Bakery. Children's characters Mickey, Minnie, Spiderman and three of Santa's elves enjoyed meeting and greeting everyone, and Silcocks amusements supplied children’s rides.
Edge Hill University's circus performers provided a workshop for children teaching them fabulous circus skills. The amazing Glacial Art Ice Sculptures showed off their expertise with a live ice carving of a gingerbread man as one of the main highlights of the day.
Visitors enjoyed browsing the fabulous stalls selling gingerbread-themed products, delicious food and gifts, not to mention the numerous wonderful independent shops discovered on the Gingerbread Trail around the town.
The Chapel Gallery also featured great fun activities with fantastic caricatures to taken away on the day and face painting for children. There was a great range of craft demonstrations alongside a wide variety of stalls, including a selection makers of contemporary crafts including textiles, wood turning, jewellery, glassmaking and ceramics.
On the main stage entertainment included performances by popular local dance and drama school Base Dance, the amazing ‘Ormskirk Rock Choir’ who wowed the crowds with favourite well known songs.
The marvellous compere Scott continued the party atmosphere by introducing the well acclaimed Tom Jones tribute act Tony Scarth, a former Stars In Your Eyes contestant who captured the power and charisma of the man himself. This led up to the traditional Carol Service followed by the switching on of the Christmas Lights at 5pm.
Dignitaries formed a procession to the sounds of the Piper Don Bithell to the main stage for the Carol Service conducted by the local clergy assisted by Friends In Unison Choir and Skelmersdale Prize Brass Band.
The Mayor of West Lancashire Councillor Noel Delaney gave a Christmas address as part of the Carol Service and then took up position with guests at the 'magic switch' in readiness for the countdown to the 'Switch-On' conducted by West Lancashire's very own Town Crier, Don Evans.
This year the Christmas lights switch on event moved from its Friday evening slot of previous years to a Sunday so even more people could join in the fun and discover Ormskirk for the day. The Council is very pleased with the success of the event and will decide whether this will be a permanent move for the future.
Ormskirk town centre Christmas lighting display this year benefitted from the town winning the Annual Blachere Illumination Christmas Light Competition, held by Revive & Thrive Magazine. Ormskirk beat off competition from other towns across the country to win the main prize of £10,000 to enhance the town's Christmas lights through new and replacement lighting displays to complement the attractive range of lights already in the town.
The Council is also helping Christmas go with a swing in Skelmersdale by supporting the Concourse Shopping centre annual festive lights switch on, contributing towards providing some high quality entertainment for the occasion. This event is being held at the Concourse Shopping Centre on Saturday 1 December. The Christmas tree and lights in the event area outside the Concourse have also been provided by the Council.
Councillor Yvonne Gagen, portfolio holder for Leisure, said: "There was plenty of Christmas sparkle for everyone to enjoy at the Ormskirk Christmas Lights switch on extravaganza to help the festive season get off to a fantastic start. Local businesses also reported good trading on the day, which is fantastic news.
"There is plenty more festive fun for West Lancashire to enjoy at the Concourse Shopping Centre as the Council is working closely with Concourse Staff on their exciting plans for their Christmas lights switch-on event on 1 December."
Exciting artistic goods by local makers will continue to be on sale at the Chapel Gallery's 'Makers' Market until January 2019.