Santa pops in as Dorchester switches on the Christmas lights

Dorset Echo: The Horse with the Red Umbrella team all dressed up for the night The Horse with the Red Umbrella team all dressed up for the night

THE STREETS of Dorchester were filled as the community turned out to enjoy a night of festive fun.

The town’s annual Christmas Cracker Night saw the lights go on and the start of late night shopping.

As well as more than 50 stalls lining the town centre, there were also musical performances around the town and traders got into the Christmas spirit with window decorations and fancy dress.

New to this year was a craft festival in the Corn Exchange, which also boasted more than 30 stalls.

Stallholder Zoe Sams said: “It’s a new initiative and it’s good to be part of it.”

Mayor of Dorchester Stella Jones said she was impressed with the craft stall and also praised the way the people of the county town came out to enjoy the event despite the rain showers on the night.

She said: “Whatever the weather we have always had good Christmas Crackers and I think people appreciate everybody coming out and all the shops opening late. It gets everybody in the spirit of Christmas.”

Santa marked his arrival in style, parading through the town accompanied by a convoy of elves and reindeer as well as children and members of the Dorchester Distinction cheerleading squad.

It was then over to the guests of honour, Hollyoaks actress Tamaryn Payne and Britain’s Got Talent star Kai Widdrington, to turn on the lights at the stage in front of St Peter’s Church.

The pair were both complimentary of the town as they pulled the plunger to switch on the lights and trigger a blizzard of fake snow.

Kai said: “It’s the first time I’ve been here, it’s a lovely area.”

Tamaryn added: “I’m a Dorset girl, I’m from Bournemouth so I’m kind of just down the road. Dorchester is beautiful, it’s an olde worlde place, it’s gorgeous.”

After the switch on, Santa set up his grotto in the Dorset County Museum as children lined up to receive a goodie bag.

Director of the museum Dr Jon Murden said the venue was always happy to get involved with Cracker Night and it was a way of bringing more people into the museum.

He said: “It’s always good to be a part of the Christmas Cracker, it’s one of the best nights of the year for us.”

John Fiori from the Cracker committee said he was happy with how many people had turned out. He said: “It does feel like Christmas now, it’s the beginning of it. This is what it’s all about – seeing all the children and families around having fun and the atmosphere is lovely.”

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