In front of a small crowd, the event kicked off around 4.50pm with local KG theatre group introducing soloist Jess with a short and sweet song from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Unfortunately there were a few mic problems although this seemed to work in her favour as there was a supportive cheer when it finally got switched on! The group proceeded to perform solos and group numbers from the likes of Rent, Les Mis, and Hamilton which proved popular with the large groups of students in the crowd- especially when they performed guaranteed morale-booster duet ‘Breaking Free’. With all members seeming to have great fun on stage, it was a sure-fire spirit lifter.
There’s a little something for everyone with this Shrewsbury tradition, aside from the entertainment in the square, the town market was ready for the late-night shoppers with Christmas decorations and warming, spicy aromas which beckoned you up the stairs. Better still, upon purchasing something from one of the many bespoke and original stalls, you earned a voucher for free mulled wine and a tasty mince pie. The potions were small but delicious, and the strong, spicy wine was just the thing to keep you going until the countdown.
Also dotted around town, were miniature fairground rides and stalls such as the teacups and Hook-a-Duck. But of course, it wouldn’t be a true lights turn-on without a huge array of light-up toys and balloons. Although I did have to give a wide berth to a dangerous looking toddler wielding a big light-up sword!
When I made it back to the square through the thickening crowds, the Shrewsbury panto cast were assuring us they were ‘perd worfect’ in preparation for ‘Beauty and the Beast’. The interview was a little disorganised with a few too many awkward silences but the one and only Brad Fitt delighted youngsters in an outrageous outfit, alongside up-and-coming star Tommy J Rollason wowing with expert juggling skills.
The final act before the big countdown was the smartly dressed Shrewsbury Male Voice Choir accompanied by the talented Porthywaen Silver Band who gave us several carols and the most serious version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer I have ever heard! Nevertheless, the songs were sung and chosen well, to put even the least festive of us in the Christmas spirit. Each song was zealously introduced by an enthusiastic member with a wonderfully friendly, and confident stage-presence which really elevated their entire performance – making people laugh when he accidentally announced, ‘While Shepherds Washed their Socks by Night’. I think the crowd may have preferred a slightly shorter set as people began to get eager for the countdown when the rain started to fall. However this didn’t dampen spirits as, when the moment arrived at last, the excited countdown ended with the town centre being set aglow with hundreds of twinkling lights.
Despite a bit of a bottleneck when everyone attempted to leave the square due to oddly placed, unnecessary roadblocks, everyone was left feeling cheered and happy- especially when walking past Santa’s Sleigh on Pride Hill (courtesy of the Rotary club).
Celebrating local talent and community, this event is one of Shrewsbury’s most loved by all ages– and for great reason. Don’t miss it!