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Gallery: Ipswich celebrated a rather damp start to the festive season with a day of Christmas treats and its annual lights switch-on

PUBLISHED: 10:34 17 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:58 18 November 2014

The Mayor of Ipswich Bill Quinton switched the Christmas lights on from the Town Hall balcony. Photograph Simon Parker

The Mayor of Ipswich Bill Quinton switched the Christmas lights on from the Town Hall balcony. Photograph Simon Parker

Archant

More than 10,000 people are estimated to have visited the town centre throughout the day yesterday to mark the official launch of Christmas.

Festivities included a festive market in St Peter’s Street, street performers, fairground rides, live music and a meet and greet by the star of this year’s Regent’s pantomime Cinderella.

The day culminated at 5pm on the Corn Hill with a low-key ceremony to turn on the Christmas lights.

Dritan Duro, from Ipswich, who was at the switch-on with his partner and two daughters, Dion, 6, and Elisa, 5, said: “It’s nice for the community and for the kids to come out, and I think we should have a bit more stuff like this coming into the town.”

Sandra Miller from Colchester said: “It’s very nice to see all the children enjoying it as well as the adults.”

Katherine Hurrell, also from Ipswich, added: “I think it’s a good event which brings people into town, and anything which gets people out and supporting local business is good.”

Last month it was feared there would be no light switch-on event at all and suggestions that it would take place in broad daylight so businesses would benefit from the crowded high street.

However, after pressure from residents and the Ipswich Star, Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) decided a switch on would take place after the end of shopping yesterday, with the lights formally switched on by the town’s mayor, Bill Quinton, from the Town Hall balcony.

There were still a few disappointed people who felt more of an effort could have been made.

Cyril Nunn from Felixstowe said: “When they said they wouldn’t be doing it, I think that put a lot of people off, so they could have promoted it a bit better.”

Ann Clarke from Ipswich said: “They should make a bit more of an effort. There’s no snow or Father Christmas, so how much of a future will there be?”

Kyle Fisk from Ipswich added: “There was some confusion from businesses and I don’t think everyone knew if anything was happening.”

The market on St Peter’s Street enjoyed a bustling trade during the day.

Andrew Mayhew, centre manager for St Peter’s by the Waterfront which held a craft and gift fair today, said: “It’s nice that everything is happening here today and that St Peter’s street market has such amazing support.”

Siobhan Fitt-Stirling, owner of the Handmade at Home stall on St Peter’s Street craft fair, said: “The outdoor ones are really nice because you do get more people coming along. I think Ipswich is really changing and trying to branch out into becoming a more cultural place. The more things like this happen, the more people will expect it to happen, which is great.”

A spokesperson from Ipswich Borough Council said: “We have had twice the number of people in the town centre than usual, with over 10,000 throughout the day. This is the first time we have put on a full day’s launch and it seems to have worked.”

A man has been charged with possessing an imitation firearm, with intent to cause fear of violence, following an incident in Ipswich on Thursday.

In the past week children across East Anglia exited school gates sheepishly clutching brown envelopes with a look of dread writ large across their faces.

The family of missing Corrie McKeague are “devastated” by the news that they may now never know what has happened to the 23-year-old RAF gunner, after police called off a 20-week landfill search.

The family of a seven-year-old girl from Bury St Edmunds in urgent need of a stem cell transplant is calling for as many people as possible to join the register.

Firefighters faced the difficult job of containing a blaze that broke out in several isolated parts of a Suffolk field.

Police have abandoned their search of a landfill site after 20 weeks looking for the body of missing airman Corrie McKeague.

Owners of Felixstowe pier have announced that the new building will open to the public this month.

Children and staff at Sprites Primary School in Ipswich have said a fond farewell two long-running staff members.

Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre is set to get a new roof in a bid to cure persistent problems with leaks that have continued for many years.

Meat cleavers, machetes and axes are among dozens of dangerous weapons seized by police from children under 18 in Suffolk over the past year.

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