Christmas lights switch-on event given magical winter make-over

THOUSANDS of people braved the cold to see Barnstaple bathed in a warm glow when the town’s Christmas lights were switched on last night (Sunday).

There was even a touch of snow in the air as folk rock singer Newton Faulkner pushed the plunger before playing a solo acoustic set of hits including Dream Catch Me, Gone in the Morning and covers of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

While the snow came courtesy of a couple of strategically placed snow cannons, there was nothing fabricated about the cosy Christmas atmosphere in the packed town Square.

By the time the lights went on at 5.30pm, the crowd was already in fine festive voice thanks to a fantastic medley of Christmas hits performed by a collaboration of some of North Devon’s finest and freshest faces on the local music scene.

The group of musicians – featuring The Breaks, Jenna Witts, Ellie Campbell, Andy Casey, Tamsin Ball, Jim Jones, Joe Brewer, Jax, Benji One Lung and Amy Newton among others– spent four weeks practising for the event and didn’t disappoint with a succession of reworked festive favourites.

Earlier that day, early birds were treated to a Spirit of Christmas parade; entertainment by the North Devon Gang Show; school choirs from Sticklepath and Yeo Valley primary schools; the winners of an in-house Petroc music competition, Off Beat; and carnival band Zamba.

You Tube phenomena, Sons of Admirals were a little light on numbers but the two members who did turn up sailed on regardless with the help of members of Barnstaple band Jonny : Black.

“Hours of hard work have gone on behind the scenes to make this event happen and I think this was possibly the best yet,” said Craig Bulley of organisers Barnstaple Town Centre Management.

“I’m extremely pleased with how the event went and it’s great that so many people in the town came out to support it.”