WITH the flick of a switch, Felixstowe’s town centre shopping area will be transformed into a festive fairyland on Saturday as Christmas well and truly begins.

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Switch-on entertainment line-up

■ Noon – stalls next to The Triangle open for business.

■ 12.40pm: Santa and Rudolph leave Great Eastern Square to parade down Hamilton Road, to the grotto on The Triangle.

■ 1pm: Poloz Majorettes display.

■ 1.15pm Kingjay Music.

■ 1.45pm: Guitar entertainment.

■ 2.20pm: Team Spirit cheerleaders.

■ 3pm: Variations Choir.

■ 3.40pm: Waiting for Christmas.

■ 4.20pm: Salvation Army Band with community carols.

■ 4.40pm: Families’ candlelight parade from Bank Corner.

■ 5pm: Mayor Mike Deacon to switch on lights.

Thousands will cram into the area around The Triangle for the big countdown as mayor Mike Deacon switches on the thousands of colourful decorative bulbs, strings, garlands and special displays, and, of course, the centrepiece, the tree.

Fireworks are expected to light up the sky and the crowd’s cheers ring out in appreciation for the huge amount of work done by Felixstowe Lions to put on the display once again and to organise the day’s programme of festive entertainment.

Just before the switch-on at 5pm, there will be community carol singing with the Salvation Army, and the arrival of a candlelight parade.

The Lions put in hundreds of man hours every year maintaining, improving and putting up the display, which it is reckoned would cost £35,000 if it had to be bought in.

Craft market for shoppers

THERE will be an added attraction for shoppers and visitors heading for Felixstowe town centre on Saturday to kick-start their Christmas shopping and enjoy the lights switch-on.

Felixstowe Chamber of Trade and Commerce is organising a Christmas craft market with a wide variety of stalls featuring quality crafts from around Suffolk.

The chamber is hoping to have 70 stalls in Hamilton Road in the shared space between Boots and Bank Corner.

It will run from 10am to 5pm.

n For further details email info@felixstowechamber.co.uk

Traders contribute to the cost of the display and Felixstowe Town Council pays the electricity bill. The tree has been sponsored by Felixstowe Freight Club.

Over the past decade – under the leadership of John Merrett – the lights have been transformed into a modern and efficient system, using 70 per cent less power.

Mr Merrett retired from his post as lights manager this year after 12 years and the steam train on the Great Eastern Square shopping precinct building has been renamed The John Merrett in his honour.

Lions’ president Philip Weatherhogg paid tribute to Mr Merrett for guiding the team with “dedication and humour” and thanked him for his service and expertise.

“Christmas in Felixstowe would not be the wonderful colourful attraction it is without the support of the local business community, local shops giving their financial and practical support,” he said.

“The train, which was a new venture last year for Great Eastern Square, has been upgraded this year and we hope the local community will enjoy the display even more this year.”

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