Thousands watch Xmas lights switch-on

HUGE crowds gathered in two Suffolk towns this weekend as the festive season got under way with the switching on of the Christmas lights.Last night more than 8,000 people packed on to the Cornhill in Ipswich to watch as Simone Craddock, who plays the title role in this year's Regent Theatre pantomime Snow White & the Seven Dwarves, turned on the display with her friends Sooty and Sweep and children's TV presenter Richard Cadell.

HUGE crowds gathered in two Suffolk towns this weekend as the festive season got under way with the switching on of the Christmas lights.

Last night more than 8,000 people packed on to the Cornhill in Ipswich to watch as Simone Craddock, who plays the title role in this year's Regent Theatre pantomime Snow White & the Seven Dwarves, turned on the display with her friends Sooty and Sweep and children's TV presenter Richard Cadell.

It followed the switch-on in Aldeburgh on Saturday when hundreds of people turned out to watch Have I Got News For You star Ian Hislop push the button to light up the town.

The celebrations in Ipswich were not without drama as the Wicked Witch, played by former EastEnders star Anita Dobson, threatened to disrupt proceedings via a magic mirror projected on to the town hall.


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She cast a spell to stop the lights from working but fortunately Sooty saved the day and the town's Christmas tree was lit up in style.

It was the culmination of a whole afternoon of festive fun, which included performances by St Pancras' Catholic Primary School choir, Hadleigh High School swing band, the Salvation Army Band and entertainment from the SGR roadshow.

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Sarah Delaney, who lives in Spring Road and was there with her five-year old daughter Cara, said: “It's great fun. There are so many people here and everyone seems to be having a great time - it really puts you in the Christmas spirit.

“Cara really wanted to come this year to see Sooty and Sweep and she's really enjoyed herself because there has been lots of things to do.”

On Saturday scores of visitors descended on Aldeburgh High Street for a day-long programme of festive activities, which was organised by the town's business association and sponsored by The East Anglian Daily Times.

Father Christmas arrived accompanied by the Aldeburgh Carnival Queen and later handed out gifts to the children in his grotto at Laines Hairdressing.

There was carol singing led by children from Aldeburgh Primary School, music from brass bands and entertainment from flame dancers.

After the switch-on, the Jubilee Opera, made up children from schools in the area, performed All the King's Men and The Pied Piper of Hamelin in the Jubilee Hall.

Richard Kihl, event co-ordinator, said: “Ian Hislop was brilliant and our vicar, Rev Nigel Hartley, was our master of ceremonies and he was very professional and quite superb.

“I've been running the Lights Festival now for more than five years and I would say we had the most people ever this year and it was very well supported.”

He said the tree looked beautiful lit up with 2,000 lights and the whole town was illuminated white which looked fantastic.

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