No celebrity for Christmas lights switch-on, but still plenty of festive thrills for Leighton Buzzard

Graeme Danby, second from left, helps turn on the Christmas lights in 2016
Graeme Danby, second from left, helps turn on the Christmas lights in 2016

Christmas sparkle arrives in Leighton Buzzard next weekend, but this year there will be no ‘star’ name to turn on the festive lights.

In recent times, internationally acclaimed singer Graeme Danby, MK panto stars Gary Wilmot and Wayne Sleep, boxing legend Frank Bruno, Philomena Lee (the inspiration behind hit movie Philomena), and Harry Potter actors Ellie Darcey-Alden and Ryan Turner have had the honour.

But this year co-organisers Leighton-Linslade Town Council and LB First have been unsuccessful in their attempts to pull in a celebrity to flick the switch on Friday, December 1.

A town council spokesman confirmed: “We haven’t been able to secure a local celebrity this year, so the lights will be turned on by local dignitaries and the Carnival Princesses.

But despite that disappointment there will still be plenty to keep families entertained over the three days.

The event offers the perfect opportunity to shop local, supporting local traders and the place to find traditional or more unusual gifts than would be available on the high street, while sampling the sights and sounds of Christmas.

Friday’s entertainment begins at 4pm with the opening of the Christmas Market in the High Street, the food court in Church Square and the funfair rides which this year spread between the High Street and North Street.

Later into the evening the main stage programme kicks off with performances from local groups, along with our headline band Huggy Flares taking to the stage at 6.30pm, just in time to warm the crowds before the big switch-on takes place at 7pm.

Local dignitaries will be joined on stage by the Carnival Senior Princess and Princesses to turn on the lights and set off the spectacular fireworks display which follows. Huggy Flares continue to play after the switch-on, entertaining shoppers and fun-fair riders until 8pm.

Saturday’s Charter Market sees all of the returning traders plus some extra Christmas themed traders popping along for the day. Extra food vendors and roaming entertainment will be on site throughout the day.

There’ll also be the KidsOut Santa Dash with Leighton Fun Runners to watch out for from 10.30am.

The festive fun continues from 11am on Sunday with the return of the Christmas Market to the High Street alongside traditional brass bands playing all of the festive favourites.

Street performers will be located throughout the high street to entertain and amaze, whilst the Dickensian Ding Dong and the Meanderthals wander causing havoc and delight wherever they go. The food court and funfair also continue throughout Sunday, so there really is something for everyone.

A council spokesman added: “Our festival is generously and kindly supported by Steven Eagell Toyota and LB First throughout the weekend alongside Leighton Buzzard Speakers, Leighton Linslade Concert Band and other local community performers.

“Due to the festivities, those travelling into town throughout the weekend should be aware that there will be no parking, bus stops or taxi rank in the High Street during the event. Signage will be displayed indicating where the temporary bus stops and taxi ranks are located.”

For timings and further details, see social media, visit or call 01525 631920.

> See pictures of the Christmas Festival in next week’s LBO. Why not email with your thoughts on the event and whether it matters if there is a celebrity to turn on the light.