Christmas has officially arrived in St Neots!

December 2, 2021

St Neots held a spectacular Christmas Lights Switch On event last Sunday 28 November, after a two year pause due to the pandemic.

The event presented several challenges for organisers, St Neots Town Council, in the lead up, due to increased concerns around Coronavirus cases in Cambridgeshire; as a result the event was slightly scaled back to create additional space for visitors.

For the first time in the event’s history, a Christmas market was held along St Neots High Street, featuring more than 20 stalls selling delicious food, crafts and gifts for the Christmas season. Visitors were able to wonder safely along the pedestrianised High Street to enjoy browsing the stalls and visiting neighbouring shops and cafes throughout the afternoon. The Market Square was a hub for street food favourites from wood fire pizzas to churros and mulled wine.

Live entertainment commenced at 4.00pm, with stars from the West End headlining the stage, presenting a magnificent performance singing hits from the musicals and the best Christmas songs. The exceptionally talented cast have starred in many West End productions and national tours including Les Misérables, We Will Rock You, South Pacific, Starlight Express, Phantom Of The Opera, Wicked, Legally Blonde, Joseph and Cats.

Isla Hastings (aged 8) from St Neots and her younger brother Dylan, were personally invited by the Mayor of St Neots, Cllr Stephen Ferguson to switch on the town’s Christmas lights at the event. Isla has an exceptionally rare genetic disorder called Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, affecting the mouth, face, hands and feet – only around 600 people in the world have the syndrome. During the last lockdown Isla wanted to do something kind and decided to challenge herself by riding her trike for 75km (46 miles) to raise as much money as she could for Addenbrookes Charitable Trust; Isla’s efforts raised an astounding £11,280.00 for the hospital!

The switch on was hosted by Black Cat Radio, St Neots Community station and the fireworks finale was generously sponsored by Urban and Civic, the developers of Wintringham Park.

A new Christmas lighting display was unveiled at the Switch On, featuring traditional, coloured cross-street festoon strings in the high street, new lamppost motifs and lighting drapes for the London Plane trees along the Market Square. The Council has worked with St Neots based company, the Christmas Decorators to deliver this new, impressive display.

Christmas wreaths also form part of the town centre decorations. The wreaths have been jointly sponsored by Urban and Civic and Huntingdonshire District Council, who supported the project with funding from Government’s Welcome Back Fund, set up to support the recovery of town centres beyond Covid to welcome back visitors.

Mayor of St Neots, Cllrs Stephen Ferguson commented: “The event was a wonderful success. After all the gloom and uncertainty of the past two years, it was wonderful to bring the whole community together in a joyful celebration. Isla and Dylan did great job switching the lights on, and hopefully signalling the start of a peaceful, happy and healthy festive season.”

Katie Williams, Town Development Manager at St Neots Town Council, said: “For our small team at St Neots Town Council it is really pleasing to see people of all ages enjoying themselves at this event, especially after the difficult times everyone has faced during the pandemic. There are many local partners to thank who have helped make this event a success – the volunteer presenters at Black Cat Radio hosted the stage and helped organise all the entertainment; Biffa provided refuse collection services for the event; Urban & Civic for their sponsorship of the fireworks display and Anglia Cooperative Funeral Care for raising much needed funds for the Mayor’s charities through the Star for a Star initiative.”