Virtual Christmas Lights Switch-On Success in Newbury

Newbury’s festive-themed lights are back and officially lighting up the town centre!

Visit Newbury, which is funded by the businesses of Newbury town centre and managed by Newbury Business Improvement District (BID), recently shared their Virtual Christmas Lights Switch-On event with the nation.

The event video, which went live on Facebook and YouTube at 6:45pm on Friday, was intended to spread Christmas cheer to residents and businesses across Newbury, whilst promoting the ongoing ‘Tis the Season to Shop Local campaign and supporting the stay-at-home message from the Government.

The event touched the hearts of many more than the BID had anticipated, reaching viewers not only nationwide in Sussex, Hersham, Southampton and Maidenhead to name a few, but by also achieving a global reach. Viewers overseas watched live from Canada, the Philippines and Zimbabwe, and there were as many as twelve viewers from the USA!

Growing viewing figures are testament to the switch-on’s success, with analytics showing it has been viewed 15,500 times so far. More than 1,000 families tuned in live on the night and, in total, the video has now reached over 13,000 people on Facebook alone, with a further 2,500+ views on Visit Newbury’s YouTube channel. The BID team are confident this figure will only increase, as the video is also due to be shared across their Instagram TV channel (IGTV) early this week.

Melissa Hughes, CEO of Newbury BID, explained the added benefits of a virtual event:

“We’re aware some people might not be ready for Christmas to start in November and the beauty of a virtual event is that people can watch the special switch-on moment at a time to suit them. If they’d prefer to get into the Christmas spirit on the 1st December or even on Christmas Eve, the event video will be available online for them to enjoy! 

Personally, I’ll be watching the countdown and switch-on moment every day between now and Christmas Day – it is such a special moment and I can’t stop re-living it! We hope residents will enjoy visiting the town centre over the coming weeks in the knowledge that Christmas will be ready and waiting for them!”

Newbury BID were delighted to be able to give the opportunity to local groups to perform for an audience in a year where performance opportunities have been so limited. One of the groups, Heart of Choir, was formed by Year 2 pupils during the first lockdown when they realised they would miss out on sharing their last months together at infant school. It enabled them to keep in touch and feel connected, whilst also raising funds for the RBH Children & Young People’s Diabetes Clinic, which is a cause close to the heart of founding member, Dara.

The event also included wonderful pre-recorded performances from VoxFresh, Silver Swans and Jollypop Entertainment Ltd in aid of Thatcham-based Swings & Smiles, Home-Start West Berkshire and a local Mind franchise – part of the national mental health charity. Newbury’s Mayor, Councillor Elizabeth O’Keeffe delivered a moving and very fitting speech, and the countdown itself came courtesy of Compton CE Primary School, members and friends of Nomads Musical Theatre, members of MovedTo Newbury, and the cast of Aladdin at the Corn Exchange.

Visit Newbury have since been inundated with positive feedback about the switch-on event.

Franchisee of McDonald’s in Northbrook Street, Ross Drake, congratulated the BID team on the switch-on:

“My anecdotal feedback is that the event seemed to have delivered excellent engagement with the people in Newbury.

We also saw a surge in orders through the delivery channel at the same time. It could be coincidence, but I believe a lot of people wanted to eat their meal at home while they watched.”

Newbury residents weren’t shy of sharing their complimentary comments either, with Vicki Maggs-Sleath taking the time to message the not-for-profit organisation:

“You (Visit Newbury) did an amazing job, it felt really special and so lovely to see the lights turn-on with everyone else online. Thank you so much, and I’m excited to see the lights in real life!”

Newbury BID would like to thank the businesses within the improvement district for their ongoing commitment and support to providing a town centre and events to be proud of. Their funds, along with a contribution from Newbury Town Council, covered the cost of the Christmas lights and video production and ensured Visit Newbury could deliver such a successful event to Newbury and beyond.

View Visit Newbury’s Virtual Lights Switch-On:

To donate to any of the aforementioned charities, please visit their websites:

Donate – 2020 General Appeal | Swings & Smiles (swingsandsmiles.co.uk)

Donate – Because childhood can’t wait | Home-Start UK (home-start.org.uk)

Donate Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems

Children’s Diabetes (royalberkshire.nhs.uk)

If you’re interested in getting involved with any of the performance groups, please visit their websites:

Singing Classes for Kids & Teens in Newbury, Berks | VoxFresh

Silver Swan Ballet Classes in Reading | With Sonia Brown

Children’s Entertainer Berkshire | Character Parties | Jollypop Entertainment

Pantomime: booking information and your visit – Corn Exchange Newbury

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