Prepare for a magical weekend as it is announced that young Harry Potter stars will be flying into Leighton Buzzard to switch on the Christmas lights, writes Amanda Devlin.
Organisers of Leighton Buzzard’s highly-anticipated Christmas Festival Weekend waved their magic wands to magic up Ellie Darcey-Alden and Ryan Turner, pictured far right, who both starred in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two.
Ellie plays the young Lily Evans in flashbacks of Harry Potter’s mother and at just 13 years old the young actress has previously appeared in BBC’s Holby City and Robin Hood.
She will be accompanied by Ryan Turner, who played the character of Hugo Weasley in last year’s film, but has actually been modelling since he was five and has appeared in a host of TV adverts throughout his young career.
I Love LB have been working in partnership with Leighton-Linslade Town Council to organise this weekend’s annual event, which will see the duo switch on the Christmas lights on Friday night at 7pm.
Chairman of I Love LB, Gennaro Borelli, has expressed his pride in the upcoming event for all the hard work of the organisers and volunteers to make the weekend a success.
He said: “We want to emphasise the community spirit and it just goes to show what you can do when everyone gets together because we have been working in partnership with the town council. It is really about promoting the town but it is great so many people have volunteered there time to make this event happen.
“I Love LB has always been about encouraging people to go local first and this event is all about bringing people together and appreciating our town and encouraging people here even in these tough times. There is a lot of hard work that goes into it.”
Events manager at Leighton-Linslade Town Council, Gill Miller, said: “I think it is going to be a great weekend for the community and the town.
“It is going to bring everybody here together for Christmas for late night shopping and entertainment, so there is something for everyone.
“We need to support the businesses in the town. Let’s create a warm and festive christmas spirit in the lead up to Christmas.”
> On Friday, the young film stars will be joined on stage by Leighton’s Carnival Queen and Princesses, plus Snow Queen and Elf stilt walkers to help with the official switch-on of the Christmas lights, followed by a firework display from the top of the multi-storey car park.
The Grand Union Community Choir will be performing between 5.30pm and 6.45pm and Leighton-Linslade Rotary Club Santa’s float, LB Drama Group’s cast from the Dick Whittington panto will be amongst the crowd.
There will also be a fun fair and children’s rides and Stratton’s BBQ, Hog Roast, Mulled wine & mince pies, Hot Chestnuts, Crepes and Vegetarian food all on offer.
> On Saturday, between 10am and 4pm, there will be a Christmas craft market marquee in Church Square, Ernie Thomas street organ, Santa’s Grotto at Barrington’s Café and the Santa Dash at 11am at Church Square.
From 11am until 3pm there will be street entertainment from a magician, a competition and treasure trail organised by Bluebell Childcare called Where’s Grandad Bluebell?
All of this will be alongside a climbing wall and fun fair, as well as a Baptist Church “Get in the picture” Nativity scene at stone circle from 11am until 2pm outside Room No 9.
> On Sunday look out for the outdoor craft market on the High Street, family of reindeer and Name the Reindeer competition, a free activity craft workshops at No 9 High Street and Snowmen family walkabout street entertainment at 12noon, 1.45pm and 3.10pm.
Live entertainment throughout the day is sure to get everyone in the mood for Christmas, as well as a hog roast, crepes and doughnuts on offer and other activities continuing on from Friday and Saturday.
The weekend kickstarts the beginning of independent shopkeepers on Leighton High Street offering 24/7 Christmas shopping in the town.
For the ﬁrst time ever, Leighton Buzzard town centre will be open for business every day in December up until Christmas with very few independent shops not offering customers seven days a week Christmas shopping.
To entice everyone to be part of the weekend, people will be able to travel to the town centre via the Dash D1 bus for free on Sunday as well as free town centre car parking and the top floor of the multi-storey car park will be closed all day Friday.
Some parking bays including disabled bays in the High Street, Lake Street and Church Square will not be in use over the weekend.
> As part of the Christmas Festival next weekend, Hockliffe Street Baptist Church are offering an opportunity for anyone to dress up as a character in a nativity scene and have a photo taken.
The photos will then be available to download from your computer – all completely free of charge. So, if you fancy being a shepherd, a wise man, an angel, or even Mary or Joseph, come along to the stone circle at the bottom of the High Street on Saturday, December 1 between 11am and 2pm, and “Get in the Picture”.
Further information from Hockliffe Street Baptist Church office, Delta House. Call 01525 371312.
> There will also be a Christmas tree festival at St Barnabas Church, from Friday to Sunday.