Revellers promised biggest Christmas event in Old Town

By Barrie Hudson - 31 October 2022

AttractionsFamilyFood & Drink

The first Christmas Festival in Old Town since 2019 has been announced.

A fun fair on Wood Street, the pedestrianisation of Victoria Hill and a huge headline act will feature in what is promised to be the biggest and best festival ever.  

The Old Town Business Association, who co-ordinate the 'Friends of Old Town', say they are back with a bang in 2022 after two years of restrictions due to covid.  
The group have already had a busy year organising two major events on Wood Street over the summer - a Queen’s Jubilee celebration and the eighth Sausage & Ale Trail. 
The festival, which will include the formal switch-on of the Christmas Lights, is now a larger event running from noon to 5.30pm. Visitors can expect a huge lineup of live music, and Wood Street, the area which usually hosts this event, will become a large fun fair full of family-friendly rides and stalls. 
This years headline act, which is set to be announced soon, is rumoured to be a well-known pop star and actor who was born in Wiltshire. The currently unnamed headliner will be performing three famous tracks as well as joining Santa in switching on the lights. 
Other entertainment on the day will Swindon favourite Phoebe Maddison, who got to the battle rounds of The Voice Kids, young acts such as the Lawn Manor School of Dance and a Robbie Williams tribute act, Marc Hopkins.                          
After a successful road closure application, the main stage and food and drink zone will be at the top section of Victoria Hill this year, whilst Wood Street will be the home of the fun fair provided by Steven Hill.

The Christmas Festival is a result of the Old Town Business Association building a strong partnership with South Swindon Parish Council, who have taken on the job of repairing and managing the lights themselves. Next year it is hoped that a carpet of LED lights will be installed at the top of Victoria Hill if this year’s format proves to be a success.

"We really need to thank the parish’s electrical contractor for work undertaken repairing the Christmas lights as they had suffered significant damage” said parish councillor Neil Hopkins.

“For the past four years, the parish council has been delighted to sponsor the installation and take-down of Old Town Christmas lights but from this year the parish has agreed to take on the installation themselves. This is a great event that involves the whole community and brings in many people from all over Swindon." 

The event will begin the Old Town Christmas festivities, as a few days later the Enchanted Gardens Light Trail, run by the parish, returns to the Town Gardens.
The organisers say this year's festival is also possible thanks to the successful launch of the Friends of Old Town Card in January. 

The scheme is designed to give Old Town users discounts at over 80 Old Town businesses. The card scheme has raised money through donations from the public as they sign up to get a card. 

Kris Talikowski, Vice-Chair of the business association, said: “This investment in the card scheme has enabled us to expand our event onto Victoria Hill and invest in its future with a regular source of income from the card scheme.

"As the card scheme continues to grow, we can continue to invest in marketing Old Town to ensure its long term success as a business district and support businesses with greater footfall and promotion." 

The association has turned to some key sponsors to help with the costs, and says TalkTalk, Deacons Jewellers, Future Planning (a financial planner on Devizes Road), the Los Gatos tapas bar and Dominos Pizza have all ensured the event can run in this larger and more exciting format. 

The festival will be public but visitors are being asked for a £1 donation per person to help with the increased costs this year and to allow investment into new lights next year.  

Power for the lights is being provided by Charles Harding Estate Agents.  

The road closure will be in place from 6am on Sunday, 27 November until 9pm and will be effective from outside The Victoria pub up to the mini roundabout where Bath Road becomes Joiner Lane. Diversions will be in place for that day and the public are encouraged to walk to the Christmas Festival if possible. 

Entry points include the old Museum and Art Gallery (Apsley House) on Bath Road, St Michaels Way, the pedestrian walkway from the Britannia Place car park to Wood Street, next to McColls on Victoria Hill, and also where High Street turns into the entrance to Wood Street. 

Places will be limited to ensure event safety, and visitors are recommended to book a e-ticket via a donation on eventbrite to ensure entry.  

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