Shaftesbury’s Christmas lights will be turned on during a special ceremony on Monday evening. Popular close harmony trio Belle Street will add some seasonal sparkle to the occasion, when they lead the crowd’s countdown to the big switch on from the Town Hall balcony.
“I think it will be a first to have the countdown in three-part harmony. How wonderful is that?” said David Perry, Chairman of the Shaftesbury Chamber of Commerce. Group member, Joni Clowrey told ThisIsAlfred that she couldn’t wait for Monday. “I’m incredibly excited by any first. It’s always very good,” she said.
After the lights go on, Belle Street promise that they’ll perform a sassy, seasonal selection of festive favourites. “We have put together a Christmas set and we’re throwing in a couple of surprises as well,” said Charllie Greenwood. “We just want people to enjoy themselves and feel festive. We want to make it fun, light-hearted and have people go home singing a few of the songs and filling them with the Christmas spirit,” she added.
Belle Street are arguably Shaftesbury’s most popular performers. As more people have discovered the trio’s talents, they’ve been in much demand. Recent gigs include a Halloween special at The Shaston Club, a pop-up event at Shaftesbury Wines and an evening at Sloanes last Thursday.
“We set ourselves a lot of goals for this year and we have ticked all the boxes for the things we wanted to achieve. We been surprised by the demand,” said Joni. “We never imagined it would be so diverse and varied and that we would have support so quickly. It’s brilliant,” she added.
Monday’s Town Hall balcony performance will bring the women their biggest audience to date and Susan Grant is looking forward to it. “We’ve got lots of support and we really enjoying performing in Shaftesbury at small events and big events. And now we’re starting to go out of Shaftesbury. It’s really lovely.”
On Monday, you’ll notice town centre businesses decorating their doorways before the Chamber of Commerce judges the doorway decoration competition.
Many town centre shops will be open into the evening and there’ll be plenty of seasonal food and drink on offer including mulled wine, mince pies and street food from The Wrap Shack. A steam engine and children’s rides on The Commons are also planned. But many people will want to come out to see Santa. Shaftesbury Town Band will accompany Mr and Mrs Clause as the sleigh moves through Coppice Street and The High Street.
“The band is going to start from the Football Club at around 6.15pm. It will take them five minutes to parade to the Town Hall,” said David, adding. “From 5.45pm, the massed town choir will be singing carols and will encourage everybody to come and join in. Whilst everybody is singing the carols, the band will arrive at the Town Hall at around 6.20pm. We expect that the lights will go on then. Just get there at 5.45pm to ensure that you get a place. And you can sing the carols!”
After the lights are switched on, a magical beanstalk will slowly climb up the Town Hall balcony. It’s laden with leaves made by Abbey Primary pupils. “They were wonderful. They responded very enthusiastically. Every child in the school has made a special leaf so there will be a lot of glitter about,” said David.
And afterwards, David says that Santa will be happy to chat to good girls and boys and give each child a gift, inside the Town Hall. “Irrespective of whether they’ve been naughty or nice, they will get a free present,” David said. Then Belle Street will sing their festive set into the evening.
Today, Saturday 1st December, Shaftesbury shoppers enjoyed free parking in the North Dorset District Council operated car parks. The deal, arranged by Shaftesbury Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce, is in place every Saturday up until Christmas. The parking time limit restrictions still apply. You won’t need to pay for a space but you will still be limited in the number of hours you can remain in one spot.