The Big Switch On

On Friday night we made the trip, all two hundred yards or so, into town to watch the Christmas lights being turned on.

We knew the Mayor was going to switch the lights on at 7.30pm so when Robert arrived home at five we let him get showered and changed first and then went out for chips first before making our way down to the square.

It's always quite low key but it's nice, nobody's drunk and staggering about and there usually aren't any idiots about trying to spoil the fun so it's perfect to take a four year old to. We started off at the bakery for mulled wine (for mummy) and hot chocolate and fresh Christmas tree shaped shortbread that was still slightly warm from the oven. Then we had to make a quick dash into a local shop to get Chloe a Santa hat because everyone had them.

Pete Snodden was there and started off the night with a few songs and Robert and I sat ourselves down in the square with our shortbread and watched Chloe dance her heart out to "I wish it could be Christmas every day", there isn't a shy bone in that child's body.

Then of course there's the usual chance to win tickets to whatever is coming up, so this year it was tickets to go to Clubland and to see the Prodigy. Loads of people clamoured to get onto the stage for their chance to win the tickets and, dear love them, it was only once two girls were picked to go up for the Clubland tickets that they found out they were going to have a dance off to see who would win. I'd have been mortified but they both really went for it, although clearly one had been practicing in her bedroom at night and was the clear winner.

The theatres around Ards really did their bit this year too and Chloe had a chance to see her first fire eater and stood amazed right in front of him as he juggled fire too. There were stilt walking elves and HUGE dancing polar bears too.

There were also two fairground rides for the kids, one a little merry go round that is at the market every Saturday which Chloe loves and another one that would put you in mind of a mini waltzer for the slightly older kids. Chloe was desperate to get on it, but I was convinced she was too little and I knew Robert and I were too big for it, but the guy operating said she was fine and big enough. For once I bit my tongue and let her go....

£9.00 she cost me! She was on that ride 6 times, so clearly not a yellow bone in her body either!

Finally came the time to turn on the lights. Everyone, by this stage frozen solid, gathered around the tree in the centre of the square as the countdown began, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... and every light in the square came on, apart from the tree.

Have you ever heard a couple of hundred people laughing?

After a few minutes of fumbling with wires and plugs and what not the lights flickered and came on. The cheer was deafening and even Chloe saw the funny side.

It actually made the night even better that the lights didn't work on cue, probably to do with something being broken and getting to fix it.

It was officially the Christmas season in Newtownards and some stayed to shop. We went home, had more hot chocolate and went to bed.


  1. Sounds wonderful! How big is your town?

  2. Nothing says Christmas like "Smack My Bitch Up".

    I must say though, that's quite a bit more impressive than ours was: an out of tune community band marching 50 people down main street AWAY from the actual tree, then seeing it lit 50ft away.

  3. Much better than our town (which is scary!), sounds wonderful - glad you had a great time. Sounds like Chloe's definitely back to her old self, after all she's been through lately.

  4. I love anything to do with Christmas! This sounded like a lovely, memorable night.


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