We were asked to cover the Andover Town Centre Christmas Lights Switch on, organised by Heather Whittam, who runs The Lights in Andover. We were promised backstage passes to be able to get up front and personal with all of the acts that would be performing.
Compering the evening was Steve Randall, from the Breeze radio station. He has such a great voice for these kind of things. Clear and strong, he introduced the acts as they came on and thanked them as they left, effortlessly enthusing the crowd every time he appeared on the stage, which had a massive screen above it where images of the stage and the Andover High Street visitors.
As we arrived, Ben Sellers from ‘In Darklight’ had taken to the stage and was belting out his brilliant set. As he sang I noticed the staff in the Phones 4 U shop dancing away. You can read the review of Ben’s set by clicking on the link below.
Next up was The Portway School Glee Club, a lovely bunch of children, who sang for the growing crowd lots of lovely festive tunes. The children looked great in their Santa hats and sang their hearts out. Completely beautifully behaved, they were a credit to their school and teachers. We saw Headteacher, Tim Deery, running around, making sure everyone was where they should be, and the two teachers who were stood at the front of the stage encouraging and coaxing the biggest smiles from the children were great.
Next up was the phenomenal and possibly my favourite act of the night (I am a Strictly Fan!), the Dance Fit with Fiona group, who were performing Just Jhoom dancing, which is Bollywood inspired. The music and choreography was fantastic, and the crowd loved it. The attention to detail was incredible. Fiona also runs dance fit classes with a Strictly Come Dancing feel and can be contacted on 07887 964176 to book in.
Next up was Outside Central, who Andover & Villages absolutely love. The set was performed today without the drummer who was stood in the crowd watching and later got a cheeky mention from the boys on stage. You can also read the review and see their pictures by clicking on the link below. Bethany Hayter then got up to perform, a firm favourite of Andover & Villages. This lovely, talented local girl arrived on stage despite being quite poorly the previous few days. However, this did not affect her performance and you can read her review and see her pictures by clicking on the link below.
We missed the next act, which was Sing for Fun, because we went for a wander through the crowds. It was absolutely packed and when moving into the area in front of the stage you couldn’t move there were so many people in attendance. It really was a fantastic turnout and Heather should be so proud of her achievement. We stopped off at the Filling Station who were serving a variety of food including steak baguettes and jacket potatoes. Run by Husband and Wife team and that night with their daughter they filled Andover’s tummies. I enjoyed a lovely cup of tea and a hot dog from them, which was delicious. As we ate I noticed Steve come and top milk up and clear down the area people used for sugar, milk and condiments. What a lovely local business. We wandered around and met reindeers, stars, balloon sellers, light sabre sellers and the various people working and providing services and food to the public. There was a real sense of community that is often not seen these days.
We got back to the stage area in time for the fabulous Chasing Daisies who were rocking the stage with their fabulous shoes. You can see their review by clicking on the link below. Next up was ‘Bang On’ an entertainment musical group who use ‘a load of old rubbish’ to perform with, using wheelie bins, pots and pans and basically, lots of rubbish. I am told that they were on Britain’s Got Talent and certainly enjoy what they do. They got the crowd going and had them screaming, shouting and clapping. After they had finished Dan Farr took to the stage to perform a couple of songs. The girls in the crowd really liked him and he got some of the biggest applause of the night. You can read his review by clicking the link below.
The finale of the show was when Santa and his elf arrived on stage, Santa had to point out that not enough carrots were left for his reindeer, last year, and implores Andover to make sure they rectify that this year, along with lots of mince pies for him – it is tiring being Santa! The real star of the show was Rosie Rickard, aged 11, from Andover and a former Portway School student. Rosie has been very poorly recently and was nominated over and over in The Breeze’s search for a star to turn on the Andover Christmas Lights. Rosie looked quite in awe of the night. Wrapped up nice and warm, she stood with The Chantry Centre Bear, Santa and his elf and Management from the Chantry Centre and plunged down to switch the lights on. A lovely pretty girl who much deserved her moment.
As the lights went on, the firework display started and it was phenomenal. It was a little obscured by the stage but absolutely amazing. The sky lit up with exploding rockets.
Heather and her team should feel so proud of themselves. It was pulled off perfectly and seamlessly. Everyone we spoke to was having a fantastic night and all with happy smiling faces. Well done and I can’t wait for next year’s light switch on. We hope to be invited again!
Ben Sellers: https://andoverandvillages.co.uk/music-reviews/343-ben-sellers-in-darklight-andover-christmas-lights-switch-on
Outside Central: https://andoverandvillages.co.uk/music-reviews/344-outside-central-andover-christmas-lights-switch-on
Chasing Daisies: https://andoverandvillages.co.uk/music-reviews/347-chasing-daisies-andover-christmas-lights-switch-on
Bethany Hayter: https://andoverandvillages.co.uk/music-reviews/346-bethany-hayter-andover-christmas-lights-switch-on
Dan Farr: https://andoverandvillages.co.uk/music-reviews/348-dan-farr-andover-christmas-lights-switch-on