12:36PM, Monday 29 November 2021
Christmas has officially arrived in Maidenhead after the town's festive lights were switched on at the weekend by successful Team GB stars and a Norden Farm competition winner.
Town manager Robyn Bunyan said that there was a 'real buzz' around the town centre on Saturday as crowds enjoyed festive markets, a funfair and other entertainment stalls dotted around Maidenhead.
Live on-stage entertainment from acts including Dance Inspired, The New Maidenhead Choir and The Bottle Kids was followed by an Olympic ring-themed lights show in front of the town hall.
Olympic and Paralympic athletes Moe Sbihi, Jack Beaumont, Jeanette Chippington and Mallory Franklin flicked the switch on Maidenhead’s festive illuminations alongside Sienna Hamilton, seven.
Sienna joined the sports stars after winning a Norden Farm artwork competition for the Christmas show Kipper's Snowy Day. Maidenhead MP Theresa May was also in attendance to meet them.
The arrival of Storm Arwen over the weekend did cause the traditional fireworks display to be cancelled, with high winds predicted.
But organisers were keen for the show to go on as crowds returned to Maidenhead for the switch-on for the first time since 2019.
Robyn said: "There was a real buzz in Maidenhead on Saturday. People wrapped up warm and definitely turned out - that is testament to the people of Maidenhead - they are strong and support their local community.
"The market was really good during the day and we had a really nice variety of stalls.
"The Olympic rings on the town hall were an added extra that we were really pleased to do to mark what an incredible achievement they [the Olympians and Paralympians] had made.
"They are all local and live in the area, and had to go to the Games without any supporters, so we were able to give them a really nice celebration."
"There was definitely an appetite for people to celebrate again. They are excited about Christmas and it was really nice to be able to share the lights with them."
Robyn added that the switch-on is a key date on the Maidenhead calendar in terms of boosting trade ahead of the festive season, particularly after a tough period for the high street.
"The town is illuminated and the countdown to Christmas is officially on," she said. "We have got some wonderful independent businesses, so head into town."
The switch-on was also one of personal significance for Robyn, who took over as town centre manager earlier this year and was tasked with arranging the event.
She said: "It was an absolute joy to run the lights and give that back to the community. What a wonderful event to start your job with, and I had the help of some wonderful volunteers and staff."