Town serves up a sparkling celebration of Christmas

Joe Patterson dressed as Avitar  switched  the Lights on
Joe Patterson dressed as Avitar switched the Lights on
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BAD weather took its toll last year, but Morpeth’s Christmas celebrations have returned with gusto.

Festivities for the town’s annual Christmas lights switch-on in November 2010 were cut short when heavy snow battered the region.

But there was no stopping the celebrations on Saturday as organisers overcame a high wind alert to not only illuminate the town, but also serve up carols, mulled wine, soup and a festive fair.

And streets were packed as thousands turned up to share in the events.

Morpeth Town Council Clerk Gillian Turner said: “Unfortunately, because of the high wind alert we couldn’t have any stalls on the Market Place this year, but apart from that everything went to plan.”

The festivities began with a sell-out Mistletoe Fair, where visitors could buy a range of Christmas crafts, from jewellery to cushions and candles to proggy mats.

Mulled wine was available and local business Gebhards provided winter vegetable soup for young volunteers from the Barnabas Safe and Sound Project to serve up.

The Northumbrian Water Ellington Colliery Band provided music for traditional Christmas carols in the Market Place, while Morpeth’s own Non Tenors – consisting of Gadgy Alex Swailes, the Rev Ron Forster, Roy Beasley and Jim McAllister – also lent a hand to get the community singing started.

The Rector, the Rev Robert McLean, gave the traditional Christmas address, before it was over to Joe Patterson, the winner of the town’s summer fancy dress competition, to switch on the lights, dressed in his winning Avatar-themed outfit.

The celebration was rounded off by Morpeth Clock Tower Bellringers, who sounded a special chime.

Miss Turner said: “The Mistletoe Fair was completely booked out, with all the stalls taken, and the town was absolutely packed.

“Because of the weather conditions we were worried about what was going to happen, particularly as we had to cancel events last year, but there were hundreds of people there and it all went very well.”

The Christmas lights are funded as a partnership between Morpeth Town Council, which contributes around £26,000, and the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, which gives £3,000.

New lights and signs were bought for Bridge Street last year, and this time organisers have invested in a new canopy of lights for the Market Place.

“The old lights were bought about eight years ago and they were all individual lights so they used to spend hours putting them up and replacing the bulbs when they went off,” said Miss Turner.

“The new ones are more energy efficient LED lights, which are better for the environment.”