Despite the dismal conditions local businesses and members of the public rallied round to save this year’s Clitheroe Christmas Festival and Carols at the Castle events from being total washouts.
Organised by Clitheroe Chamber of Trade and Commerce, the arrival of Father Christmas led by a cavalcade of scooters and followed by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service in a fire engine, signalled the start of the festivities and Clitheroe Christmas Festival.
These included stalls selling festive wares in the car park of the Rose and Crown pub on Castle Street, Santa’s Grotto in the United Reformed Church, and donkey rides in Clitheroe Castle grounds.
There were also performances by Clitheroe Ukelele Band, Arthur Geldard and Samantha Sings in the Rose and Crown pub, while Clitheroe Town Band played in Swan Courtyard and Shannon Bond sang in the United Reformed Church.
The Ribble Valley Events Company served mulled wine and cider on Castlegate, while The Parlour served mulled wine, hot chocolate and cocktails in Market Place.
In the afternoon, Ribble Valley Mayor Coun. Stuart Carefoot switched on the Christmas tree lights at Clitheroe Market and, an hour later, crowds gathered in and around Swan Courtyard for a walking nativity procession led by the Rev. Andy Froud to Clitheroe Castle bandstand.
Hundreds of people dressed as elves gathered at the bandstand to take part in an Elf Yourself Challenge and to enjoy a carol concert organised by local Christians as their gift to residents this Christmas.
Free hot chocolate and mince pies were served to those who attended the Carols at the Castle event which began with the Rev. Andy Froud, accompanied by The Grand’s Dave Thornber and Chris Meyer, performing a rendition of the Gangnam Style dance.
Backing music and vocals were provided during the concert by Fuel, who are the resident band at Clitheroe’s The Grand, and a mixture of both traditional and modern carols were enjoyed during the open air concert.
People followed carol lyrics off a big screen and some of the surrounding trees around the bandstand were decorated with lights.
Dave Thornber, of Clitheroe’s The Grand, said: “It was so wet through the day that we were anticipating little over a few hundred people, but it was a great surprise to see just short of 1,000 hardy locals brave the wet to join us as we ‘kicked off Christmas in Clitheroe’.
“Over 55 volunteers representing five local churches gave their time to setting up, stewarding and serving hot chocolate and mince pies. It was a real success in bringing the town together at Christmas, but also a fantastic display of unity across the churches.
“Partnering with the Chamber of a Trade and being a part of the wider Clitheroe Christmas Festival was a smart idea. Rev. Andy Froud paraded through the town with a walking nativity and we saw over 130 people dressed as elves in the bandstand.
“Much like the Love Clitheroe BBQ, our new Christmas event, Carols at the Castle, is a completely free, with free hot chocolate and mince pies. It is organised and funded by local churches and businesses as a Christmas gift to the town.
“Justin Willis, manager of the local skate park and youth worker at Clitheroe Community Church, gave a Christmas message about the peace that Jesus brings in contrast to the chaos that we find ourselves in at Christmas.”
Carols at the Castle was also supported by Clitheroe’s The Grand and local businesses with its main sponsors being IWA Architects, while Sainsbury’s supermarket in Clitheroe donated the hot chocolate and mince pies for the event.
• Clitheroe Fire Station is hosting a charity Christmas open evening on Thursday, December 13th. The event, which will take place from 6 to 9pm at the Princess Avenue station, will raise money for The Fire Fighters’ Charity. Attractions will include stalls, live music, children’s activities, demonstrations by firefighters, fire engine tours and food.