Santa’s sleigh, free parking, and late-night shopping – Marlborough gears up for Christmas

Written by Peter Davison on .

Marlborough will be bathed in a festive glow as its Christmas lights are switched on this Friday.

The 7pm switch-on – complete with the traditional countdown – will be the culmination of a day of seasonal activities.

A Christmas market will occupy High Street from 10am until 8pm. Starting near the Town Hall, the stalls will stretch westwards. Organisers say there will be even more stalls this year than last.

High Street parking will be suspended from 1pm, and at 3pm the road will be closed to traffic, to guarantee the safety of the estimated 3,000 to 4,000 adults and children making their way to the festivities.

Father Christmas will be settling down in his Town Hall grotto from 3pm. Ably assisted by his friends at Marlborough & District Rotary Club, parents are able to book an appointment for their children to see Santa:

A visit to see St Nicholas costs £5, with proceeds going to Helen & Douglas Children's Hospice and local charities supported by Rotary.

From 5pm there will be choral and dance performances on the main stage, outside Lloyds Bank.

The stage becomes the focus of activity from 6.45pm, as Santa makes his way along the High Street on the Lions Club sleigh.

The identity of the Citizen of the Year will be revealed by mayor Noel Barrett-Morton, who will push the plunger to turn on the Christmas lights display at 7pm.

For those who can’t wait to start their Christmas shopping, some retailers will be staying open until 8pm.

And there will be another boon for Christmas shoppers on Saturday, November 19 – with free parking in all Wiltshire Council-run car parks from 9.30am.

Shoppers should be aware, though, that parking restrictions – including those on the sides of High Street – still apply, and that parking wardens will be patrolling throughout the day.

And further free parking in a relaxed atmosphere is promised by traders on Thursday, December 1.

At a meeting of the town’s Retail Forum last week, 25 traders agreed to keep their doors open until 8pm, allowing Christmas shoppers to take advantage of post-6pm free parking, and giving them the chance to browse in their favourite stores in a relaxed atmosphere.

Many traders will be offering special discounts and promotions on the night – look out for those.

Our own Guide to Christmas is out this week. Pick up a copy from selected outlets from Friday, or click here get a sneak-peek online