The ghost of Christmases past visited a historic west Suffolk village this weekend as revellers turned the clock back 200 years for a Dickensian style yuletide festival.

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As part of the three-day event in Lavenham, visitors were encouraged to enter into this year’s 19th Century theme and dress up as characters from Dickens’ novels.

Prizes were awarded for the best costumes and for the “best Dickensian shop window”.

More than 40 charity and traders’ stalls were set up around Market Place and Guildhall, peddling a variety of Christmas gifts, locally-sourced food and drink, artwork, jewellery, clothing, Christmas wreaths, cakes, cards and decorations.

The festival began with a Christmas light switch-on ceremony on Friday night performed by ex-Ipswich Town footballer Fabian Wilnis along with England rugby player and Help the Heroes patron Simon Halliday.

During the weekend, there was a guided lantern walk and a Salvation Army Christmas carol service featuring the Lavenham Primary School choir.

Meanwhile in nearby Long Melford, the village business association organised a family Christmas festival on Saturday. The famously long main street was packed with attractions ranging from musical entertainment to traditional yuletide treats for kids including Santa in his grotto, donkeys and a puppet show.

The Long Melford Silver band and a lone piper had Hall Street resounding with Christmas carols and festive songs.

Retailers decked out their shop windows in seasonal attire for the event, which also included a performance by the Green Dragon morris dancers.

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