Lytham’s new-look Christmas Lights Switch On last Saturday attracted a bumper crowd to the town centre to enjoy hours of new-format fun and entertainment before the switch was pulled to herald the start of the festive season. The event, organised by the Lytham Christmas team on behalf of Lytham Business Partnership, was a huge success and involved over 400 participants and volunteers.
“Light Up Lytham” set out to involve more of the town this year, and to remain accessible and inclusive. And what a success!
Delighted onlookers were treated to pop-up music, song and dance performances in the temporarily pedestrianised Clifton Street in the afternoon, with acts switching between event zones creating much movement and magic. Meanwhile favourite children’s characters were milling ahead of a Light up Lytham Lantern Parade to the stage in Clifton Square. Cafes were busy, and there was a buzz in the air.
A lot of people were moved by what unfurled and the reactions of by-standers and children.
One mum commented: “It was amazing and well done. We loved every moment and it was a truly memorable event for our adopted little boy whose autism sometimes overawes him in new situations. Not at Lytham’s Switch On. He absolutely loved every experience you gave him – Father Christmas and the elves, the sleigh, the music and the lights and happy voices, it brought a tear to our eyes. A truly traditional and happy time. The organisers all did an outstanding job so thank you for making our little one (and everyone) feel the Christmas spirit.”
Former EastEnders actor Cheryl Fergison and Danny Sebastian of TV’s Bargain Hunt did the honours for the big switch-on, with special guest BBC’s Graham Liver and Peter Anthony compering. With the town lit up and the 25 foot Christmas Tree aglow, on-stage entertainment continued well into the evening, with performers including Mark Jay, Jane Dean and James Kennedy, plus Scarlett Hackett and Jess Hagon. BGT’s comic Steve Royle and Emmerdale’s Tom Lister, together in Aladdin at The Grand had a blast. There was also a preview of Lowther Pavilion’s panto, and performances by Lytham Community Choir and Rock Choir.
Voluntary organisations across Lytham were thanked for helping to “Light Up Lytham” all year round, with Lytham In Bloom, the RNLI, Lytham Club Day, Park View 4U, and Friends of Lowther invited onto the stage to take a bow.
The official After Party was hosted at The Station with rock band Rubber Giraffe.
The well-received, dynamic street performances were courtesy of Lytham Academy of Performing Arts, Scream Theatre School, Dance etc, Wish Upon a Dream, AKS Drama and Music, Skool of Street (House of Wingz), Rainbow Dance & Theatre School, Risque Agence, Lytham Guitar Club and Showchoir.
The Event Zones, manned by Intrak, were kindly facilitated by the Charity Shops Brian House, Trinity & Mind, and also by Hallmark Thorntons. Whilst Fylde Soroptimists and Wesleys played host to the performers, with refreshments donated by Lytham’s cafés and restaurants, based at The Assembly Rooms and St Peter’s Church. St Peter’s Choir sang whilst parade participants, including families bringing home-made lanterns, assembled as the light faded.
Marshals included Lytham Club Day and Lytham Hall volunteers and the Police Cadets. Responders from St John Ambulance were on hand and about town all day, and the Rev Emma Swarbrick from JC Lytham said a prayer of blessing for the town.
Information about the artists and sponsors, the volunteers and those who have donated is being shared on the “Lytham Christmas” Facebook Page, along with a host of jubilant photographs of the day. Brett Harkness and Roger Moore were the official photographers.
Captured on film were Cllr Cheryl Little the Mayor of Fylde, with The Lytham Town Crier Kila Redfearn and Santa on a walkabout to judge the shop windows competition.
Suzanne Taylor, Chair of Lytham Business Partnership, the organisation responsible for putting on the event for the town, was delighted with reactions, and very proud to be a part of the organising team.
“It was a joy to see delight on people’s faces. Thank you to Mick Cox, Cllr Peter Anthony and Paul Lomax from Lytham Hall, Lytham’s Town Crier Kila Redfearn and husband Cllr Andrew Redfearn and Matt Naylor from Lytham St Anne’s News. Lytham Christmas is a team with a formidable skill set, and it has been a terrific to work with such a focussed, fun group of people.”
The funding for the Lytham Christmas Switch-On Event is all drawn from donations from the business community and individuals, with a grant covering much but not all of the lights themselves.
Key sponsors this year were Lytham St Anne’s News, Mary E Lowe, Vincents Solicitors, Harrison Drury, Stringers, Confident Futures, Sparrowhawk Legal, Lakeland Verandahs and Chris Allen Garages. We also thank River Properties for a huge amount of logistical assistance both before and after the event, and the provision of Santa’s Sleigh, which was pulled by Farmer Andrew Pemberton astride his vintage tractor. The hugely popular (and lifesaving) RNLI Lifeboat featured in the parade, too.
Suzanne, who owns Bond & Bloom florist on Clifton Street, added: “All our artists give their services for free, as does our organising group, and the many volunteers on the day. The costs we need to cover with fundraising include promotion, staging, lights, sound, costumes, production, festive trees, welfare, health and safety and insurance. We are very grateful for all sponsorships and donations.”
“Lytham’s hospitality businesses have reported a hugely successful day, and we are looking forward to the retailers and every member in the town having a successful Christmas period. It is so important to embrace what our local high street has to offer, and shop locally wherever possible. If we don’t, we risk losing something very precious.
Over 60 businesses in Lytham are participating in the Lytham Loyalty Card scheme, and the first draw of completed cards is this Friday 24 November, with the winning tickets being drawn by Mary E Lowe of Vincents, who are sponsors of the first two quarters. Get you completed cards into any of Lytham’s participating businesses by 5pm on Thursday for a chance to win in the first draw. There are Lytham High Street voucher up for grabs, with a first prize of £150 in vouchers to spend in participating businesses. The second draw will be in February 2024.”
“Please, please keep returning both to support and enjoy Lytham over the coming weeks, and get your cards stamped, too!”