CROWDS enjoyed a spectacular evening of festive entertainment as Brewery Square began the Christmas countdown in style.
A host of other events across the area saw Dorset transformed into a winter wonderland at the weekend.
Thousands turned out to enjoy the switching on of the Dorchester square’s lights and the opening of the new synthetic ice skating rink and they were treated to a show stopping performance of dance and entertainment.
Stilt walkers, dancers with fire and an enchanting ballet display in a snow dome enthralled the families who filled the square before the new quarter was lit up in all its glory.
Video - Festive fun at Brewery Square
Andrew Wadsworth, a director of the development, said he was relieved that the evening went without a hitch as many hours of hard work paid off.
He said: “It was a big undertaking and to be doing this in front of three or four thousand people meant there were one or two little nervous moments.
“When they were counting down for the lights I was thinking ‘please God, let them go on’.”
Mr Wadsworth said that, with a major portion of the town’s population turning out to enjoy the event, the evening was a landmark moment for the square and all the businesses now operating there.
“In many ways, it was more significant than when it first opened.
He said: “I think it’s more meaningful than when the square opened because lots of things have now opened.”
Peter Hyde, who runs Trinity Street Christmas Trees, and his wife Tamzin, who is managing Skating in the Square, had been working non-stop in the days running up to the event to get everything ready. As well as two 27-foot trees, Peter has overseen the installation of a further 30 trees around the square and the illuminating display boasts over 30,000 LED lights.
The skating has proved a massive draw with more than 1,500 people already having booked online.
Tamzin said: “It’s been brilliant and everyone seems really excited.”
County town resident Jago Oak-Rhind, 11, was among the first to hit the rink, which features a synthetic material designed to be as close as possible to real ice.
He admitted that he had fallen over once but said it was a really good experience and the addition of the ice rink was great for the town.
He said: “It was good fun.
“I think they should do it more often.”
To book for the skating visit skatinginthesquare.co.uk.
• Crafty view of festive season
BREWERS Quay came alive at the weekend with a fundraising Christmas craft fair.
Hundreds came from far and wide to try their hand at traditional crafts at Mrs Darling's workshop.
Business owner and event organiser Alison Honnor, right, said she was ‘thrilled’ at the turnout.
The Christmas fair was organised in memory of her mum, Pat Norman, who died of cancer two years ago.
Alison said: “It's just been amazing, I can’t believe how many people have come.
“It’s great to see Brewers Quay coming alive again.”
Alison, a former teacher, began holding Christmas craft fairs at her home to give her mum something to focus on while she was ill.
A visitor described the event as 'just darling', and the name stuck.
Earlier this year, the space at Brewers Quay became available and Alison decided to expand the business.
She said: “My mum raised £1,500 for the chemotherapy suite at Dorset County Hospital before she died, so I'm trying to match that.
“So many stall holders are helping, I could not do it without their support.”
The event featured Christmas stalls as well as workshops for people to make jewellery and other crafts.
Alison said: “There are so many talented people come to take part.
“We want to keep traditional skills alive, and it's all about recycling and reusing things and turning something that is unwanted into something you can take home and keep.”
The space at Brewers Quay was ‘wonderful’, she added.
“There’s a little courtyard and I would love to hear from any schools or groups who want to design some artwork or sculpture to go there.”
Anyone who wants to get involved is asked to contact Alison on 07785 918180.
• HOMEMADE lanterns helped to bring some sparkle to Lodmoor Country Park yesterday.
The annual Sparkle in the Park event attracted hundreds of people and youngsters were able to make their own jam-jar lanterns before taking them on a procession around the park after dark.
Dinah Ellis, of the Friends of Lodmoor Country Park, said: “It’s been extremely successful. We had around 130 children making jam-jar lanterns and for the first time everyone gathered together before going off around the park.
“It was really beautiful, and a lovely community event.”
Pictured are Lilly Bissett, Phoebe Oliver, Lois Lester and Freya Oliver.
• A COMMUNITY Christmas event in Osmington gave several charities a boost this weekend.
The Osmington Christmas Carol kicked off in style on Friday with a tree lighting.
Events continued over the weekend with stalls, choirs and a Santa’s grotto.
It is organised by the Friends of the Parish group with support from the Sunray's management team.
Chloe Maxfield, Lynda Mansbridge and Katie Buckle are pictured trying a stall.