Switch-On Success: Visitors Flock to Newbury for Christmas Lights Festival

Newbury Christmas Lights

We’re delighted to share that their first ever day-long Christmas Lights Switch-On Festival was a huge success.  

On the day of the event, which took place from 10am to 9pm on Saturday 20th November, Newbury town centre experienced one of its busiest days in nearly three years, topped only by the final two Saturdays before Christmas in 2019. We’re  thrilled to reveal that footfall was up by 16% on the previous Saturday, recording total visitor numbers of nearly 35,000 (about twice the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden), from across West Berkshire and beyond. The event helped to ensure that last week was the first full week since before the pandemic hit in March 2020 when footfall exceeded normal levels, with more visitors in the town centre than during the same week in November 2019. 

The BID delivered a day of over 20 free festive activities and workshops for children, adults and families alike, ranging from Alternative Christmas Wreath Making, hosted and delivered in partnership by two local independent businesses, The Dolphin Pub and Willow and Blooms (both on Bartholomew Street), Card Printing workshops from City Arts Newbury at Newbury’s very own department store, Camp Hopson, Beer Tasting at The Spare Wheel, and Papercraft Decorations at The Globe, to name but a few, and not to forget Mr Green Grinch and a Frozen Princess at Newbury’s oldest store, Barry Forkin-Toomers.  

Venues were at full capacity throughout the day, with some workshops running out of supplies by midday. Cupcake Decorating at Waterside Youth Centre, led by Colline’s Kitchen, ran out of ingredients and had to re-stock, as did Santa’s sweet supply, which needed re-filling by 1pm at the Grotto based at Parkway Shopping. We also received confirmation from Parkway Shopping that footfall figures were up 181.3% from the same day the previous year. 

Ed Turner, at The Dolphin Pub, commented:  

It was fantastic to see so many people back in Newbury after what feels like a very long time. The pub was so busy, and we had customers of all ages come in for the event and order food as they put their creative caps on- which is just the result we were after!

Helen, who delivered the activity from the local floral boutique opposite our pub, did a fantastic job getting customers in and settled down with their crafts.

Helen Vickers, of Willow and Blooms, added: 

It was lovely to see such a variety of customers coming in to take part in the free workshop. Groups of friends were attaching baubles in between sips of gin, and there were both families and couples getting in the festive spirit.

On another note, it was great for me as the owner of independent business, Willow and Blooms, in Newbury, to collaborate with another local business (The Dolphin) for the event, which is great proof that Newbury BID work to achieve a real sense of community for businesses in the BID area.

Overall, the event was expertly organised, and I’d like to thank Newbury BID for their commitment to delivering such a wide-spread event for Newbury.

And it wasn’t just the businesses who saw the event as a success for Newbury. We’ve been inundated with positive comments from local stakeholders and town centre visitors alike.  

Paul Hopwood, Newbury resident, emailed in to praise us for our efforts and express his thanks for the event: 

Well done on a fabulous night. After everything we have been through these last couple of years and for everyone we have lost - that was the reunion our community needed. Thank you and early Happy Christmas.

Andrew Marmot, at Parkway Shopping, said:

Newbury BID coordinated dozens of retailers and operators putting on activities around the town and hosted a massively successful switch-on event. All with a team of three people.

They also beat Southampton, Winchester and Bournemouth to secure regional news station coverage for the event, as well as radio interviews with the regional stations, delivering £10,000’s of free media coverage for Newbury as a whole as we approach peak trade. An excellent achievement. Well done Visit Newbury.

Alison Drummond, our Operations Manager, says: 

We were delighted to see such significant footfall in Newbury town centre because of our Christmas Lights Switch-On Festival. This is the first time we have delivered this event as a team, as last year we went down the virtual route.

We’re chuffed to hear that restaurants were fully booked, and Christmas gifts were flying off the shelves of our local shops, which ultimately fulfils the key purpose for the event; to bring in town centre custom for our local businesses whilst giving visitors a fabulously festive free day out.

Our next event is the Victorian Christmas Fayre, taking place on Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th December.  

To find out more about what’s happening in Newbury this Christmas, please click here.

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