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Christmas comes to Chester's Garden Quarter

Neighbourhood event includes music and entertainment from children, students and local bands

Dancing mums, students with circus skills, bar staff performing hip-hop and a vicar singing Elvis were among the line up from this weekend’s annual switch-on of the Christmas lights in Garden Lane.

Residents and visitors turned up in their hundreds to the launch of the Christmas Festival in one of the city’s suburbs.

The Garden Quarter hosted a range of events to mark the first in a calendar of seasonal activities, and to celebrate the switching on of their Christmas lights in Garden Lane.

Entitled Garden Quarter Light Night, the evening began with the Christmas Fayre at Chester Blue Coat Primary School and was followed by a procession of children singing through the streets to Garden Lane where the annual outdoor switch on event took place.

The festivities concluded with entertainment in The Bouverie, Goat and Munch and newly re-opened Chichester Arms.

Spokesperson for Friends of Chester Blue Coat Primary School Rachel Nightingale said, “The Christmas Fayre at our local school was definitely our best yet; the venue was absolutely packed from the beginning to the end, and many came to see Father Christmas in his storytime grotto and his real reindeer in their paddock. There was also plenty of singing, crafts and stalls!”

She added, “It was then wonderful to see so many people join the musical procession to Garden Lane where the entertainment continued.”

Garden Lane was closed to traffic as the ‘pop-up’ outdoor stage played host to a wealth of local performers.

These included hip-hop artists Vil, talented father and son guitar duo Sam and Cian and brother and sister vocal duet Rosie and Kai who stunned the audience with their rendition of ‘Do you Want To Build A Snowman’.

The new vicar-elect of St Thomas of Canterbury Church Steven Sheridan gave a rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Christmas.’

Theatre in the Quarter's Victorian Singers

The stage was also filled with the sound of Theatre in the Quarter’s Victorian Choir, Chester Blue Coat School Choir and women’s choir A Handbag of Harmonies.

Dance and visual spectacle was provided by the University of Chester Circus Society and the Cambrian Queens.

The switch on show was presented by Theatre in the Quarter’s Matt Baker, a resident of the Garden Quarter.

The honour of ‘pressing the button’ (or ‘squeezing the octopus’ tentacle as is the unusual traditional case in the Garden Quarter) was bestowed upon well known Cheshire farmer Ed Whalley, known to many as the founder of the much loved Crocky Trail.

Event organiser Roy Hughes said, “Ed has been a terrific support to our neighbourhood for nearly twenty years, and every year he drives his portable stage from Waverton into Garden Lane with his tractor so we can put on our show. We thought it was about time to acknowledge him for all the incredible support he has given us over time.”

There was a musically accompanied firework display as Garden Lane was illuminated with Christmas lights.

Residents had worked through the week decorating the fresh trees and mounting them up above the shops in preparation for the switch on.

Andrew Clouting, who wrote and recited a poem for the switch-on moment said, “There is a terrific community spirit here, and it is wonderful to be part of a neighbourhood where so many people come together to make things happen, whether that is climbing up ladders to fix the Christmas trees, rehearsing the young children or performing on the stage.”

The Christmas lights were upgraded this year in Garden Lane thanks to support from the New Homes Bonus, support from Garden Quarter councillor Bob Rudd’s members budget and donations from traders in the area.

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