Christmas celebrations in Haverhill will get underway earlier this year
Haverhill’s Christmas lights will be switched on in just two weeks time as part of a drive to boost businesses in the town centre during the festive season.
For the last few years the lights have been switched on as part of the Family Christmas Night, held on the first Friday in December.
This year, however, the Christmas lights switch will be pressed on Friday, November 22, although the Family Christmas Night will take place on Friday, December 6 between 5-8pm followed by the traditional fireworks on the Recreation Ground.
Haverhill Town Council has agreed to the change after a request by the Heart of Haverhill, a task group set up by ONE Haverhill Partnership, with a view to promoting business engagement in the town centre and attracting more people into the shopping area.
Nick Keeble, Haverhill Town Council’s art and leisure manager, said: “The whole idea is that the town centre is more welcoming.
“In response to the businesses that felt a Friday in December is a very late time to turn on the lights we are just looking to turn them on a bit earlier.”
Mr Keeble said this year the lights switch-on would be more low key than in the last few years, when they had been switched on by a celebrity, and the plans for it were still being put in place.
In his regular column in this week's Echo, the chairman of the ONE Haverhill Partnership, John Mayhew, said: "A priority for ONE Haverhill Partnership this year has been to work together to further illuminate our town centre.
"Under the Heart of Haverhill banner, we wanted to use the group, and its social media platforms, to provide a digital centre for local shops and businesses to shout about their services or work together to improve our shopping centre and the local economy.
"It is a work in progress but a diligent task group, meeting monthly, quickly realised that the Christmas evening was a good event to try to support organisers Haverhill Town Council, which has done such sterling work in years gone by.
"Working closely with Nick Keeble, we wanted to make the event one for all the family.
"Nick and his team have already done so much, this year and in many previous years, to make the evening so successful.
"So, alongside the fireworks and the fairground (which is now being moved to the Market Square), we were tasked to encourage more businesses out on the streets during the evening.
"To make it a more family event, choirs from a number of local schools will sing carols and the Haverhill Silver Band will also play a collection of Christmas favourites.
"In addition to the hub of the High Street, we also set about encouraging more activity at the top end of the town centre and in Queen Street and Queens Square.
"Paul Donno, of 1 Accounts and a member of Heart of Haverhill, has teamed up with the Royal Exchange to organise a mini beer festival and live music while David Ellis is also organising a Santa’s Grotto in Queens Square.
"Heart of Haverhill is committed to helping town centre businesses improve footfall and they told us they wanted the Christmas lights to be turned on earlier than the evening of the family Christmas night.
"We were delighted with the positive response of Haverhill Town Council to the idea and this year the lights switch-on will take place at 4pm on Friday, November 22.
"It is all shaping up nicely. Now we are urging as many town centre businesses to get involved by bringing their business out on the street, outside their shop, for the night.
"They can also decorate their window and their staff.
"The more businesses that get involved, from in and around the town centre, the more successful the evening will be for all.
"Our messages to businesses of Haverhill? Join in the festive fun and help to kick-start a new era of our Haverhill Family Christmas Night."
Find out more about how you can get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or joining our Heart of Haverhill Facebook page or @HeartHaverhill on Twitter.
Chairman, ONE Haverhill