Taunton’s Christmas Festival takes place in Somerset’s county town this coming weekend and there is so much to look forward to this year.
From Santa and reindeer parading through town to TV personality Johnny Kingdom switching on Taunton’s Christmas lights, it’s going to be a cracker.
It all gets unwrapped when Taunton’s first late night shopping starts this Thursday, paving the way to another late shopping event on Saturday along with an activity-packed day, including a preview of the town’s Christmas lights and a Santa Run at noon in Vivary Park.
The popular “Free after 3” initiative will also start on Saturday with drivers able to park free of charge after 3pm in Council car parks in Taunton.
“Taunton town centre will be truly festive for the four weeks up to Christmas,” said Cllr Mark Edwards, Events Champion and Deputy Leader of the Council.
“It makes sense to concentrate our resources – people and money – on creating a continuous programme of Christmas events and activities and to make the season a wonderful experience for children.”
We’ll be riding into town on an open-top bus, thanks to the Buses of Somerset, with TV personality Johnny Kingdom, Miss Somerset, the Mayor and Father Christmas to host the lights switch on at 5pm.
Last week, the public were asked to vote for which Christmas tree should take pride of place in the town. Three trees were available to choose from and the tree with the most votes will be on show this coming weekend. It has been kindly donated by Langford Lakes near Wellington.
The day is packed with activities including Father Christmas, complete with reindeer, parading through town finishing up in his grotto at The Castle Hotel, a family fun fair in Coal Orchard car park and markets and children’s rides in the town centre.
Castle Green will be illuminated this year and will host a series of artisan crafts, street food and food producers’ markets daily from December 1 with stalls staying open for the late night shopping evenings on Thursdays in December.
Run by the Blackdown Hills Business Association, the markets offer original artwork, handmade jewellery plus local food and drink. Entertainment will include a blacksmith’s forge in operation on Castle Green while Santa’s Grotto will be based in the adjacent Castle Hotel.
The Council is funding some spectacular street entertainment by Fuse Perfomance featuring fire and lights. And extra efforts are being made to make Christmas magical for children, especially those in the less fortunate areas of the town.
Lantern-making workshops at The Brewhouse Theatre have been funded by the Council as well as 60 places for children involved in the activity to enjoy the theatre’s Merlin Christmas production. It’s part of an effort to bring the arts and performance into schools that could not afford to fund a trip themselves.
The children are also creating a giant dragon that will lead a fantastic River of Light Children’s Parade with more than 270 youngsters taking part. They will process through town, accompanied by two bands, with members of the cast of Merlin. The parade will come to its big finale on Castle Green.
Cllr Edwards added:
“The lights will be up and making Taunton, look really festive. Our Christmas programme of entertainment and the Children’s Parade will give Taunton a real buzz this year.”