Let the countdown begin! Christmas is coming to town

Christmas lights switch on at Hemel Hempstead's Old Town
Christmas lights switch on at Hemel Hempstead's Old Town

Some have already started, others think it’s too early, but one thing’s for sure – Christmas is definitely on its way to Hemel Hempstead.

The Old Town hosted the first of its new-look festive lights switch-on events on Saturday – which was for the first time not dubbed the Victorian Evening as it had been under its previous guise since 1998.

Organiser Loretta Anderson of Community Action Dacorum said: “Despite a heavy downpour just as the stalls had all set up, it cleared over nicely within the hour and people then crowded into the High Street. The choirs and bands were excellent and stalls reported very good sales.

“As we are a charity, the event aims to bring people into the Old Town, give the businesses a chance at extended opening and charities and choirs the opportunity to raise funds and their profiles in the town, and give the community a nice event to attend in our beautiful old High Street.”

Mayor of Dacorum Allan Lawson switched on the lights joined by MP Mike Penning and the night’s special guest – Father Christmas himself – after a moving ‘light up a life’ service led by St Mary’s Church’s Rev Jenny Hill.

Next weekend marks the newer side of town’s own Christmas countdown, which begins with the arrival of a giant 15ft-high ‘rocking reindeer’ at Riverside Shopping Centre on Saturday, November 29. Shoppers can ride the reindeer and take away a free portrait. On the same day, Kings Langley will host its switch-on in the High Street from 3pm to 7pm.

On the Sunday, November 30, Heart FM radio – including presenter Daniel Fox – will be on stage from 4.30pm outside Tiki Cafe to welcome people and organise entertainment for all the family. Fairground rides and other attractions will be available in the town centre from midday.

The radio team will be joined by girl group Vanquish – who supported Westlife on tour in their former incarnation and will be providing live music on the night.

Santa will be joined by another jolly figure in a red coat – Mayor of Dacorum Cllr Allan Lawson – to switch on the lights at 5.30pm, followed by a fireworks display.