Community spirit lights up Thetford for Christmas

'Dr Who' may have arrived in time-travelling style to switch on Thetford's Christmas lights – but it was community spirit which lit up the town.

Scores of people squeezed into space in front of King's House on King Street as the button was pressed, and watched the town centre spring to life in preparation for Christmas.

Numerous family events were organised to coincide with the lights being turned on, beginning as early as midday with local artist Ned Pamphilon who arrived to paint a large canvas of the town itself.

There was also a Christmas food and drink festival which ran all day in the Guildhall.

As the darkness drew in families gathered to watch the Thetford Players sing carols and children from Bishops Primary School who dressed for the occasion in fairy and elves costumes.

Father Christmas dutifully arrived on his sleigh, accompanied by real reindeer, fairies, elves and pixies, and toured White Hart Street, King Street, Guildhall Street, Cage Lane and Raymond Street and finished at Santa's Grotto outside Boots on king Street where each child was given a small gift to take home.

Town centre manager Susan Glossop said the event was always very enjoyable and added: 'The night we switch the lights on is always so important because we have such a young population here and it's always very well supported by the community.

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'This year has been particularly good because we've had a lot of community groups taking part - there's much more a spirit of people wanting to get involved.

'The town was full of children's entertainment and fairground rides and stalls and this year the theme was very much the children. It's lovely but it's so tense waiting to see if all the lights go on.'

The festive weekend continues on Saturday with a Christmas Craft Fair and Fun Day hosted by the Thetford Players in the Carnegie Room, Cage Lane, from 10am to 3pm.

At 7.30pm, Breckland Brass Band will be at St Cuthberts Church, Well Street, Thetford where they will perform a mixture of Christmas songs and carols with refreshments, including mince pies, for the audience during the interval.

Entertainment will continue throughout the month with a carol workshop by Thetford Music Project at Queensway Junior School at 5pm on December 8.

On December 14, Thetford Singers will introduce Christmas Old and New, inspired by festive music from old English, medieval and modern times, celebrating Christmas through the ages. It will be held at Thetford Guildhall at 7.30pm.