A group of residents is ensuring Fleet's annual day of Christmas celebrations will continue after the previous organisers stepped down
A group of community-minded individuals are making sure Fleet celebrates Christmas in style this year.
For many years the town has hosted a one-day celebration of Christmas, called Fleet Festivities.
The event regularly attracted up to 10,000 people to watch the Christmas lights being switched on, catch an early glimpse of Santa and enjoy the numerous stalls and entertainment lining a pedestrianised high street.
But the previous organisers had too many work commitments to continue running it, putting the future of the event in doubt.
Now a new committee has taken over and renamed the event Fleet and District Christmas Festival and it will reflect a more traditional Christmas market feel.
The festive fun will be held on Wednesday, November 20 from 4pm to 9pm, with the Christmas lights being switched on at 6.30pm.
Street entertainment will be provided in the form of local children’s and adult choirs, rock groups and other musicians, while Fleet shops and businesses are being encouraged to stay open to offer late night, pre-Christmas shopping.
Local community and voluntary organisations from around the district will be well represented, while visitors will be able to see characters and excerpts from the town’s first professional pantomime, Dick Whittington, which will run from December 17 to January 1 at The Harlington.
Committee chairman Sharyn Wheale, a Hart district councillor who also represents Fleet on Hampshire County Council, said she was delighted to confirm this year’s Christmas Festival is going ahead.
“We’ve worked really hard to keep this alive,” she said.
“Every year events like this take a tremendous amount of work to organise.
“Last year’s committee did a splendid job and I believe with the volunteers we have this year we will also be able to provide a fantastic Christmas evening for everyone.
“I am so excited to be part of the great team that is working so hard to lay on this event for the people of Fleet and district and have no doubt it will be a great success.”
Fleet Town Council chairman Bob Schofield is also delighted that Christmas will once again be celebrated in style.
“I am immensely grateful to all the volunteers, groups, businesses and individuals who organise and participate in the Christmas Festival,” he said. “It is such an important part of the annual calendar of events in Fleet town. To have a professional pantomime production is very much the icing on the cake for 2013.”
Free parking will be available in all Fleet town centre car parks from noon for stall-holders and event volunteers and from 4pm for festival visitors on the day.
The new committee has secured the support of Fleet Town Council and Hampshire County Council and is seeking sponsorship from Hart District Council, local businesses and community groups.