Christmas arrived in Mansfield with a bang on Sunday when more than 8,000 people flocked to the town centre for the annual lights switch-on spectacular.
The day was packed with festive entertainment for all the family, ranging from fireworks and music to panto pranks and circus skills.
And alongside Santa himself, star guests included Mansfield’s own Paralympic Games medallists, Ollie Hynd and Charlotte Henshaw, plus the UK’s number one Adele tribute act, singer Katie Markham.
Probably the most important person in the crowd, though, was eight-year-old Jaidon Boucher, of Church Warsop, who had won a competition to perform the actual lights switch-on. The competition took the form of an auction on Mansfield 103.2 for a VIP package for the event, and Jaidon’s parents, Jason and Donna, bid £605, which will be donated to the Christmas Toy Appeal at King’s Mill Hospital at Sutton.
Jaidon, who suffers from mild cerebral palsy, joined his mum and dad, along with 13-year-old twin brothers, Brandon and Bradley, on stage for the switch-on, which also heralded a sparkling fireworks display across the town to launch the countdown to Christmas.
The event was spread across various venues in the town centre, with the Market Place hosting an elf-themed circus-skills workshop and a Christmas party for children, while Pleasley Colliery Welfare brass band and The Red Hot Band performed on stage.
Over at the Four Seasons Shopping Centre, the crowds were treated to Santa’s Big Arrival Show, which was repeated every hour and featured appearances by a lifelike animatronic polar bear, The Snowman, mascots including Scoop The Dog and Buzz The Bee, a brass band and Miss Mansfield.
Local performing-arts groups, Razzamataz and Funky Studios, then warmed everyone up for the Big Switch-On stage show itself, which was hosted by Mansfield 103.2 and was full of Christmas cheer, led by the Executive Mayor of Mansfield, Coun Kate Allsop, who congratulated Hynd and Henshaw on their successes in Rio.
Soul Rhythm belted out popular hits, and stars from the Palace Theatre’s panto, ‘Peter Pan’, took to the stage before Millie Harrison and Jasmine Allsop, from Ashfield School choir, led a singalong of ‘Walking In The Air’.
Katie Markham, also a former ‘X-Factor’ contestant, sang a fabulous selection of Christmas favourites before Santa himself returned and an excited Jaidon switched on the lights.
On behalf of the organisers, Mansfield District Council, the Mayor said: “The event was a great success, and we want to thank everyone who took part and helped to make it happen.
“Thanks also to everyone who came along and showed their support. We hope families had a really good day out.”
The event marked the start of late-night shopping in Mansfield town centre every Thursday from now until Christmas. Santa’s Grotto in the Four Seasons is also open every day until Christmas Eve.
The council is keen to hear feedback from anyone who attended the Big Switch-On, so it can consider making improvements to future events. Just fill in the brief form at www.mansfield.gov.uk/switchon and your name will be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win a £30 shopping voucher to spend at Four Seasons. The closing date is Sunday, December 11.