Thousands of people descended on Hough Lane, Leyland, on Saturday 24 November for the annual Christmas Festival and lights switch-on – this year presided over by celebrity guest Danny Miller, the award-winning actor and Emmerdale star.
The festival – funded, organised and run by South Ribble Borough Council and Leyland Town Team – began at 2pm and lasted until 6.30pm, with Danny hitting the big red button at 5.30pm.
A huge crowd assembled in the town’s high street – a mixture of South Ribble revellers and celebrity spotters, some of whom had travelled from as far as Ireland to be there. Many others said they had made the journey from Liverpool, Preston, and across Lancashire.
As well as witnessing the illumination of the town’s Christmas lights, festival-goers could also enjoy great live music on the main stage, a fun fair, Santa’s Grotto, arts and crafts stalls, and food and drink kiosks.
The Flying Pig Pizza Company were on hand for some festive-themed pizzas; Daisy Catering provided their usual array of crepes and sweet treats; meanwhile, Leyland Market bustled with punters buying cheese, meats, sweets, and everything in between.
Music came from Connor Banks, Charlotte Newman, Bines, and Kev Jameson. Then, at 5.30pm, the crowd went wild as Emmerdale star Danny Miller came onto the stage.
The three-time recipient of ‘Best Actor’ award at the British Soap Awards (for his role as Aaron Dingle in Emmerdale) proved a massive hit with his crowd of adoring fans. After doing the business with the lights switch-on, he hung around for more than half an hour, posing for selfies and signing autographs.
Other highlights of the day included:
- Santa’s Grotto – Santa said hello to hundreds of children in the Grotto, set up especially in a retail unit on Hough Lane. They received a Cadbury’s selection box and a hearty “Ho ho ho!” from Mr Claus himself.
- Fairground rides
- Christmas lights in the trees along Hough Lane – and for the second year running, the team at Blackpool Illuminations helped to install Saffie’s Star in memory of Saffie Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of the 2017 Manchester Arena bomb attack
- Food and drink and arts and crafts from South Ribble’s fantastic array of small independent businesses
- Former Mayor and Mayoress of South Ribble, Councillor Mick Titherington and Carole Titherington, addressed the crowds to thank them for supporting the #LightUpLeyland project run by Leyland Town Team. Much of the money was amassed via fundraising efforts
- Current Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor John Rainsbury, addressed the Festival and described what “an incredible honour” it is to be Mayor and being able to attend events such as the Festival
Councillor Caroline Moon, Deputy Leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: “To welcome more than 3,000 people to Leyland in a single day for the Christmas Festival is just so pleasing for me; for the council, our staff and of course the Leyland Town Team, to whom we owe a great deal with regards fundraising and their help running the event with us.
“We’ve seen the amazing reception on social media already, and it means a lot to us that our residents can come and enjoy events like this in the heart of their town; their borough. I’d like to thank everyone for coming; all the businesses who came and set up stalls; all the live musicians; and of course Mr Danny Miller himself, who was such a great guest to be able to attract to Leyland.
“With Small Business Saturday approaching (1 December), we’d like to thank everyone for shopping locally and supporting events, not just in Leyland such as the event this weekend, but in Longton, Penwortham, Lostock Hall, Bamber Bridge, and right across the borough.
“There are plenty more Christmas lights switch-ons taking place over the next few weeks in South Ribble. Head to www.southribble.gov.uk/christmas for full details. Everyone at the council wishes you a very merry Christmas!”