Carnival team’s pledge to overhaul Dereham Christmas lights event

Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - Biscuit with the Christmas Tree in Dereham

Scenes from the Dereham Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - Biscuit with the Christmas Tree in Dereham Market Place. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The enthusiastic team behind this year's successful Dereham Carnival have vowed to take on the town's Christmas lights switch-on event next year and put Dereham 'on the map'.

Hopes were high this year that extra funds raised by the community would make a significant improvement to the display around the market place.

But following the switch-on event on Sunday there have again been mutterings of discontent about the impact of the illuminations.

Within minutes of the event the carnival team announced their plans to 'radically overhaul' next year's switch-on and launched a fundraising drive.

The proposal they put to the town council includes a Dickensian/Victorian Christmas market, a lantern parade, traditional entertainment such as carol singing and brass band, and even look into providing an ice rink for the weekend.

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Chairman Kerry Doyle said the council would still be in charge of putting the lights up but the carnival team would take control of organising the switch-on event.

'We want Dereham to gain a reputation for a being a great Christmas destination,' she said.

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'We want to totally overhaul the actual day and make it a really family-orientated event.'

Vice-chairman Pete Jessop said they felt the key was to take it 'back to basics'.

He added: 'It just didn't feel Christmassy enough on Sunday. We want it to be something that continues to grow from here.'

The team plan to use Carnival funds to support the Christmas lights next year, to go towards the purchase of new lights and running the event, but in future hope that the event will raise enough money to fund itself.

A 'Pound for a Pound' collection has already raised over £760 in little more than 48 hours and once donations reach £1000 the Dereham Carnival Committee will match it. People donate as little as £1 via the website

Mrs Doyle said: 'We have a reputation now for organising really good events and getting local businesses on board. We accept that the Christmas lights will be slow grower but it needs a completely different approach.'

* Market traders CC Wells are also running a raffle for a £40 box of fruit and vegetables suitable for Christmas dinner. Buy a ticket for £1 from the stall on Dereham market on a Tuesday, or visit the website for contact details. The draw will take place on Tuesday, December 20. Money raised will go to the lights appeal.

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