Christmas officially kicks off in Henley-on-Thames with the annual Christmas Festival on Friday evening. The town centre will be transformed into a winter wonderland with Market Place, Duke Street, Bell Street and Hart Street all being closed to traffic from 3pm for late night shopping, a fairground, stalls and fun for all the family.
There will be live music on the stage in market place from 5pm with the following performance times:
5.00pm – Henley Children’s Theatre
5.15pm – Diva’s & Dudes
5.30pm – Henley Youth Choir
5.45pm – Stagecoach Henley
6.00pm – Blue Mic Choir
6.15pm – Soprano – Charis Anne Luke
6.40pm – Kenton Panto Cast
7.00pm – Lights Switch On with Celebrity Christopher Biggins + Mayor’s Speech
7.10pm – Christmas Carols from the Woodley Concert
7.30pm – Saxcellerate
8.00 pm – 8 Ray Music
In addition, a choir from Reading Operatic Society will be performing at 6.30pm on Duke Street and 7.30pm on Bell Street and watch out for Mrs Claus and her elf side-kick roaming about on stilts.
At 7pm, Christmas panto legend and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here winner Christopher Biggins will join the Mayor Kellie Hinton, this year’s Mayor’s Christmas card competition winner Lotte Groh (pictured below) and the cast of the Kenton Theatre’s Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime to switch on the Market Place and Christmas Tree Lights. On winning the competition, Lotte said, “I wasn’t expecting to win. It was a big surprise. I had a few ideas and kept changing my mind. I didn’t copy a photo, the picture was drawn from my imagination. I’m excited to turn on the Christmas lights with my family and to go to the pantomime.”
This year, Henley Town Council has taken a new approach working with the wonderful businesses and services in town, who are supporting Henley’s Christmas Celebration’s 2023 through sponsorship.
This year, Father Christmas will be hosting his grotto at the King’s Arms Barn from 4.30-7.30pm ably assisted by his elves.
For 2023 Henley Town Council has renewed and extended the Christmas Lights in the centre of town and many shops will have a small Christmas Tree lit up on the outside of their premises.
Henley Town Clerk Sheridan Jacklin Edward said: “We’ve been working all year on making this Christmas and future years’ celebrations in Henley really special. With a new lighting scheme and with the help of our wonderful sponsors, local businesses and residents, we have certainly achieved this.”
Henley Town Manager Paul Carey added: “ I started this role on the 3rd of January and one of the first things I did was book Father Christmas for the Grotto and started planning Christmas. Our sponsorship approach has been very well received and we’ll be looking to build on it year on year. I think Henley is going to look and feel super Christmassy this year and we all wish the residents of Henley a truly special festive period.”
Christopher Biggins said: “I am really looking forward to being in Henley to turn on the Christmas Lights next week, it’s been in my diary for ages and I’ve been counting down the days!”