ALDERSHOT hosts its annual Victoria Day celebrations on Saturday, although there is a case to retitle this year's event Victorious Day.

For the town's championship winning football team will head the celebrations with an open-top bus tour, starting from the Recreation Ground around 10.30am.

It is a unique opportunity for Shots fans to greet manager Terry Brown and the players who have catapulted the team back to the brink of the Nationwide League after a season of unprecedented glory on the pitch.

Club chairman Karl Prentice revealed the entire squad would break off from their busy preparations for the new season to be there on what will be a very special day for the town.

"For the first time we will be displaying the shield we received for winning the Ryman League," said Mr Prentice.

"But this is a day when it is not just about the football. We are delighted to be able to get out into the community and support the day.

"It is also a chance for all of us, the players and the manager, to thank the fans and the town.

We are part of the community, after all, and it is nice to be able to get out and meet the people."

The Victoria Day Fayre is now in its 11th year and this year's celebrations are being masterminded by town centre manager Jenny Rawlings for the fifth consecutive year.

The accent is on fun for all the family with up to 8,000 people expected in the town centre as Aldershot pays tribute to its Victorian heritage.

More than 100,000 programmes are being sent out detailing what is happening, including everything from stilt walkers, jugglers, a treasure hunt and marching bands, through to the town's very own Elvis concert, featuring singer Dale Fontaine.

The event has the support of the News group, which is putting up cash prizes and distributing programmes through our free newspaper, the Courier.

Aldershot Garrison Radio will be on the spot, hosting a roadshow, with Rodney the Dragon, face-painting and Victorian barrel organs.

Traders will create the atmosphere of a busy Victorian town, with themed windows and staff dressed up in Victorian costumes.

Aldershot's very own Queen Victoria, Betty Bryce, will be enjoying the fourth year of her reign and she will certainly be amused by the revelries put on by her subjects!

Jenny said: "Betty is absolutely fantastic. Betty and the whole entourage from the Conservative Club of Aldershot show such a commitment to the spirit of the Victoria Day Fayre and we are very grateful to them. Betty works damned hard every year."

The Royal party is due to enjoy a buffet lunch in Yates's wine lodge at around 1pm.

The fun is due to start from 10.30am when the football bus tour begins. The perimeter roads (High Street, Victoria Road and part of Grosvenor Road and Station Road) will close from around 10.45am until noon for the Grand Parade, and Princes Way will remain closed until 3pm while the Vintage Car show goes on.

The good news is that town centre parking is free for the day — but get there early.

Elvis, Jeeves and Wooster act Butler & Brown and the Dunlop Irish Dancers will be the main attractions on a stage set up in Union Street.

There will be a Punch and Judy show in the arcade, and Fox Gymnastics, the Old Basing Corps of Drums and TS Swiftsure Band will be performing in Wellington Street.

Jenny said: "Queen Victoria decided to make Aldershot the home of the British Army 150 years ago next year, and the land releases in 2004 will enable Aldershot to grow once again.

"Our own Victoria celebrations were born 11 years ago as a way of boosting the town and we have had so much to celebrate since then.

"Four and a half years ago there were 68 empty shop units in the town, but today there are 18.

"There is a real feel good factor in Aldershot now and we would like to welcome as many people as possible to the celebrations so they can experience it for themselves."

Aldershot Football Club's promotion to the Nationwide Conference as Ryman League champions is to be marked with a civic reception at Rushmoor Council's offices in Farnborough on Thursday July 17.