Christmas arrives as the town’s lights are turned on in the annual ‘Big Reveal’

SPARKLING BRIGHT Christmas illuminations on the High Street

THOUSANDS of people descended on Tunbridge Wells town centre at the weekend for not one, but two Christmas light switch-ons.

Light schemes, designed and funded by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Together Business Improvement District (BID) since 2020, were turned on all over the town on Saturday (November 19).

The event started with carols in Chapel Place, thanks to singers from the King Charles the Martyr church.

Mingling around the Christmas tree, revellers were treated to free hot food and drink from the chestnut stand, panettone from Arte Bianca, chocolate from Goupie and festive canapés from Larratt & Co butchers.

The Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Cllr Godfrey Bland, switched on the lights officially at 4pm.

The organisation, which is funded by a levy paid by all businesses in the town centre, also contributed to lighting up the frontage of Royal Victoria Place this year, through a grant to landlord British Land.

BID also match-funded lights in The Pantiles, with landlord Targetfollow and arranged for infrastructure works to bring the area up to the correct standard.

The fun in The Pantiles started after the Chapel Place switch-on, with The Pantiles Big Reveal event at 5pm to 8pm, sponsored by BID and organised by The Zero Waste Company.

The official switch-on took place at 8:30pm.

As the evening wore on, events turned into the Party on The Pantiles, with live music from Miss Holiday Swing and appearances from Elf, gingerbread characters and the Jack in the Beanstalk panto stars.

New areas in the BID’s Christmas light scheme for the first time this year include Castle Street and trees in Calverley Road and precinct.

Yet none of the official events prevented individual shops from joining in with the fun, and plate glass windows all over town are sparkling with seasonal decorations.

At G. Collins & Sons on the High Street, prancing reindeer and illuminated Christmas trees formed a bright banner across the entire shop front.

The Pantiles Christmas markets are on every weekend until Christmas, with food, shopping and festive music.

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