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It’s Dereham’s time to shine as town gets set for a brighter Christmas

PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:42 28 September 2017

Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - Biscuit with the Christmas Tree in Dereham Market Place. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - Biscuit with the Christmas Tree in Dereham Market Place. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016

From Father Christmas in a grotto to live reindeer, a tree of wishes, lantern parade, music and a market, Dereham is set to sparkle brighter than ever this festive season.

Dereham is planning a much brighter Christmas lights event this year.  Picture: Michael Lyons Dereham is planning a much brighter Christmas lights event this year. Picture: Michael Lyons

The town has come in for criticism for its Christmas lights display over the past few years despite efforts by the town council to make improvements.

Now the organisation of the event has been handed to the team who run the Dereham Carnival and their expertise at managing large scale celebrations looks set to make the town a must-visit Christmas destination.

Led by Carnival chairman Kerry Doyle and vice chairman Pete Jessop this year’s light switch on will take place on Sunday, December 3 at 5pm but activities and entertainment will start from 11am with a lantern making workshop.

Father Christmas will open his grotto, supplied by Cabins Unlimited, from 12pm to 4pm outside the cinema.

Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - The crowd. Picture: Matthew Usher. Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - The crowd. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Children will be able to meet his helpers, choose a present, bring their letters to put in the North Pole postbox, have their photo taken with Father Christmas himself and meet his reindeer thanks to sponsors The Railway Tavern.

The Christmas tree in the Market Place will become the Tree of Wishes. People can buy a gift tag, write their message to a loved one or make a wish and these will be tied to the tree on Saturday, December 2. Gordon Barber Funeral Directors have gifted a sizeable donation towards the cost of the tree and all monies raised will be donated to a charity of their choice.

The lighting parade, sponsored by Shellie Wall Photography, will start at 4.30pm in Nelsons Place for the short walk to the Market Place. Make a lantern at the workshop or bring your own.

The lights themselves have also been boosted so visitors should see a real difference to the town.

Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - The crowd. Picture: Matthew Usher. Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - The crowd. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Ms Doyle said: “We’ve been fortunate enough with the breathtaking donations that came in to have been able to buy some beautiful new lights.

“The display will continue to grow over time but we’re hopeful people can see it’s heading in the right direction.

“We’re also adding a few more features, so keep your eyes peeled.”

There will be music on the stage from 12.30pm and stalls featuring a selection of gifts, crafters, food vendors and local charities.

Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016. Picture: Matthew Usher. Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Play your part in Dereham’s Christmas countdown

To make the town really stand out the committee believes the involvement and support of local businesses will make all the difference.

With that in mind they have written to all town centre shops asking them to get creative and dress their windows to give them the wintery wow factor.

They will then be entered into a best dressed window competition, sponsored and judged by EDP and Dereham Times on the day.

You can also get involved in the key moment of the day by nominating someone you believe deserves the honour of switching on the lights.

It’s a big responsibility and the committee wants to give the role to someone from the community who deserves this special recognition, maybe a volunteer, community champion or someone who has overcome adversity.

Email enquiries@derehamcarnival.co.uk with your nominations.

More information is available on the website.

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