Councils reveal plans for Christmas lights fiestas

By Connor Steel

RESIDENTS are being invited to join the Christmas spirit across Fareham and Gosport this November, with both borough councils announcing ‘Xmas Lights Switch-On’ events over two weekends following cancellations in 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

These new Saturday events join already scheduled celebrations to mark December 25, together with the Lee Victorian Christmas Festival and similar events this winter.

Fareham’s lights switch-on celebration will be held on November 20 after a whole day of family friendly entertainment as seen in 2019. Starting at 10am, entertainment will include workshops, reindeer, funfair rides, face painting, a visit from Santa and Christmas decoration-making lasting until the conclusion at 8pm. The theme of the day will be ‘A Victorian Christmas’. And a fancy dress competition will be held, with two winners receiving family vouchers for the new climbing wall at the local leisure centre.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are also expected to be in attendance at the event, which will be held in West Street (town centre pedestrianised area). A stage will be erected in the centre and is due to be the main focus of attention for singing or related performances before the Major of Fareham switches on the lights at 5.30pm and an unspecified grand finale is promised to entice people to enjoy the event until its early evening conclusion.

However Fareham Borough Council has warned there will be no fireworks. A small charge for funfairs will be made, although most of the activities are free including meeting reindeer and craft-related fun. No tickets will be needed to enjoy the event, although large crowds are expected at the festivities and this could lead to issues including parking or safety. An advertising poster can be seen on this link, with a detailed timetable available on this council page.

Exactly one week later, Gosport will be hosting its own Christmas lights switch-on event, which will start at 2.30pm on Saturday, November 27, coinciding with Lee-on-the-Solent’s Victorian Festival that weekend. But despite no theme, borough council organisers have promised a line-up of locally run entertainment on their main stage led by Wave 105’s Stuart McGinley. It is likely to centre around the Town Hall in the High Street, opposite Argos.

Big Noise Samba Band will be opening the event at 2.30pm and entertainment will include Lianne King, Travellin’ Fiddle (Gosport Shed) and a choir from St John’s School. A lantern parade is further scheduled for 4.15pm by local schoolchildren, before music from popular films such as Aladdin and Mary Poppins is broadcast over the stage as part of a show entitled ‘That’s ShowBisney’.  At 5.45pm the New Theatre Royal will provide Cinderella and friends to start the countdown, with visitors assured to know that the ‘ugly sisters’ have been banned from attending.

The main attraction will take place at 6pm as Gosport’s High Street is lit with Christmas lights, accompanied by a four-minute display of reduced noise fireworks. Father Christmas will also attend the switch-on, with the whole event likely to be finished at approximately 6.20pm. No tickets are needed and there is currently no charge to watch, although some potential yet-to-be confirmed activities may involve a small fee. Residents are asked to visit www.gosport.gov.uk for more information, with announcements also on the council’s social media channels with a poster here.

Both Gosport and Fareham borough councils will be hopeful that these provisional schedules go ahead as planned, although any additions and line-up changes will be published on social media as more information becomes known. In the meantime,the two authorities have also warned of  the potential for a last-minute cancellation due to adverse weather or Covid-19.

PICTURED BY BROOKE WATERS: Fareham lights up for Christmas in November 2019