No Christmas lights switch-on ceremony

The pandemic has pulled the plug on Congleton’s annual lights switch-on extravaganza.
The popular event when the switch is flicked to light up the town and herald the start of the festive season traditionally attracts more than 1,000 spectators to the town centre on the last weekend in November.
But this year the need to social distance means people will not be allowed to gather in numbers for a switch-on event.
Usually, Santa arrives on his sleigh, there is a lantern procession through the streets, and entertainment on Bridge Street including children’s fairground rides.
A spokesperson for the town council confirmed this week: “We are not having one this year. We are exploring different ways, but that is all to be confirmed.” However, to compensate for the lack of a social gathering, the town will be getting bigger and better lights this Christmas.
There are also plans for an ice sculpture to be carved in the town centre on Saturday, 12th December.
The decision to boost the illuminations display was made at a recent meeting of the town council’s Community and Environment Committee.
Town marketing and events manager and deputy chief officer Jackie MacArthur told councillors at the meeting: “We have used our Christmas lights for eight years and continue to use them – it’s about creating a great environment for Christmas.
“The review of the lights and the benefit of creating a more attractive and welcoming town centre is considered even more important this year to encourage more local people to support their local town at Christmas.”
Town mayor Coun Sally Ann Holland suggested that the additional lights could be used throughout the year and not just at Christmas.
She said: “I’ve always suggested that it would be great to see lights on all year round through the town centre. I think it makes it a lot warmer, a lot more inviting, not as dark. Obviously the lights with stars on wouldn’t be appropriate all year round.”
It will be the first time this millennial that the switch-on will not be watched by a live audience.