Diss Christmas lights set to switch to Saturday

A Norfolk town's Christmas lights switch-on will be held on a Saturday rather than a Thursday in a break with tradition to try and encourage more families to attend.

The organisers of the Diss switch-on have decided to hold the town's annual extravaganza on Saturday, December 1 because in previous years parents had been put off as their children would have to be home early to be ready for school the next day.

Sarah Carpenter, landlady of the Waterfront Inn and one of the event organisers, said: 'There was a good turnout last year, but we are hoping for a better turnout this year with it being on a Saturday.

'A lot of people have commented on the fact that they would like it on a Saturday so they did not have to rush home to get their children to bed. A lot of people don't even come because they are not home in time for the switch on.'

An unnamed celebrity is set to turn the lights on in the Market Place at 7pm, but before then there will be a number of events to get the crowd warmed up including performances from two live bands and Santa's procession through Mere Street which will end at his Grotto in the Market Place.

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Sarah said she was also hoping to have more stalls at the event than the six that took part last year.

Last year, the switch on nearly did not happen because nobody was willing to coordinate it, but local businesses and community groups rallied round to save the festive spectacular.

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Hundreds of townsfolk gathered in the Market Place as singer Savannah Love and former footballers, Paul Gibbs and Tom Casey, who played in Diss Town's FA Vase winning run of 1994, joined revellers for the celebrations.

They were also joined on stage by Diss mayor Mike Bardwell, Father Christmas and the Carnival King and Queen, Tom Harris and Hdia Nour.

The crowds were also treated to some Christmas songs from cabaret artist Savannah and a parade involving jazz band Big Al's Swinging Santa and vintage cars and a fire engine before the lights switch-on at 6.45pm.

Also in attendance were juggling elves, a Dalek, stilt walkers, Darth Vader, a storm trooper and Lopham talent show winner Alfie Barnes, 10.

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