Christmas lights to be switched on in Chichester

There will be a colourful and explosive start to the festive season on Saturday (November 26) when residents gather for the grand switch-on of the Christmas lights.

Actor Simon Callow, who is appearing in Dr Marigold and Mr Chops at the Chichester Festival Theatre, will be pushing the plunger with mayor Tony French at 5pm at the Market Cross.

Directly after the big switch-on, there will be a firework display over the city sponsored by Wannup Fox Staffurth and Bray solicitors.

The best place to view the fireworks will be West Street, which will be closed to traffic during the display.

And to get the festive mood flowing during the day, the council has organised for a wide variety of activities and performances from a number of groups to take place.

The programme of entertainment will include a puppeteer and an illusionist, various music groups, carols from the Petworth Town Band and a performance by the New Community Rock Choir which is based at Immanuel Church, Graylingwell Park. Some of the street entertainment will also take place on Sunday.

Youngsters will be able to enjoy a visit to Santa’s Grotto – which will be in Chichester only on Saturday – a mini-merry-go-round and face painting while the Chichester Lions will have their sleigh on show and will be raising money for good causes.

As in past years, the three Rotary Clubs – Chichester, Chichester Priory and Chichester Harbour – have been in charge of the Christmas tree which was put in place at the Cross over the weekend and this year was made possible by West Dean Estate and Jewson Builders Merchants.

Before the switch-on, the Dean of Chichester Cathedral, the Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling, will bless the tree.

The Rotary clubs will be at the Cross from 3pm offering hot mulled fruit drinks and roast chestnuts, while schoolchildren will also be singing carols.

Children are encouraged to make their own lantern and take part in the torchlight process which starts at 4pm from the North Street precinct.

Led by the Training Ship Sturdy Marching Band, the procession will make its way to the Cross, then up East Street and then return to the Christmas tree to see the lights being switched on.

In addition, Chichester City Council’s new two-day Christmas, home and craft market will take place in the Assembly Room at the Council House in North Street from 9am to 6pm on Saturday and from 10am to 4pm on Sunday, November 27.

Also entertaining the crowds over the two days will be Tangmere-based Carte Blanche’s most famous creation, Tatty Teddy, who will be handing out giveaways and children will also be able to have their photo taken with him.