A new twist on an old favourite gave a fresh boost to Aylsham as people packed into the town for the lights-up event.

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For the first time, there is a frost fayre, bringing a host of festive events and attracting more people into the centre.

The new approach paid off as the Market Place was packed during the switch on of the lights by the Rev Andrew Beane, the new vicar of Aylsham.

And, rather than dispersing and heading for home once the lights were on, many people stayed in the town late into the evening to enjoy the ice rink in the churchyard, the Christmas tree festival in the church, fairground rides and other entertainment.

Before the switch was flicked, there was a procession from St Michael’s Church to Market Place, seasonal music by Aylsham Town Band and songs from Bure Valley School’s choir.

Children visited Santa’s grotto in Eclipse hairdressers, while many local businesses stayed open late.

Smudge Smith, one of the event organisers, said: “It’s been absolutely superb. When the lights were switched on, you couldn’t move in the Market Place.

“I think there were more people here than usual.”

He said it rained during the event, but “people chose to stay”. And he said the lights were “looking good”, adding that the committee was halfway through changing from coloured lights to white “icicle” lights.

The fayre was the initiative of Aylsham Business and Enterprise Forum, which is bringing new energy and ideas to the town to ensure its future prosperity.

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