A HUGE programme of pre-Christmas entertainment is planned this year to help Ballymoney to immerse itself in the festive atmosphere with the centrepiece obviously being the Christmas lights switch-on which will be on Thursday November 22, the Times can reveal.
Hundreds of people traditionally flock to the town centre for the lights switch-on and this year the theme will be one of showcasing local talent with music, dance and even pantomime.
As well as the big switch-on, a number of events will be held in the weeks leading up to Christmas and it is understood vouchers - believed to be of a substantial amount - will be given away to shoppers before December 25 as the tills in shops hope to jingle all the way.
Meetings have been held in Ballymoney recently involving Chamber of Commerce members to plan Christmas events and there has been encouragement that a number of local traders have given good support.
Also on November 22 there will be cartoon characters going through the crowds with the help of Cheers Youth Centre and also the Northern Regional College and after the switch-on there will be an ‘after-show party’ in Cheers.
Santa’s sleigh will be present as usual and it is expected that it will be pulled by a motorbike.
Other events around Ballymoney in the run up to Christmas will include Santa’s Grotto in Cassells’ shop at Main Street which was very successful last year and there will be festive cinema screenings in Ballymoney Town Hall.
Other events around the town will include carol singing, pantomime and a market and the Castlecroft area will come alive again in the run up to Christmas.
The town centre speakers will be up again playing festive tunes and a planned schedule of late night openings in Ballymoney is being planned.
It is understood efforts will be made to encourage more cafes to open up during the late night openings for shoppers to be able to avail of refreshment as they hit the stores.
A source said: “We realise that Ballymoney has a very good local offering for local people to shop in in the run up to Christmas and people like the friendly atmosphere and the handiness of it all and ease of movement around the town without having to travel into other places like Coleraine or Ballymena and battle through traffic and queue to get in to clogged up carparks.
“The traders in the town are keen to ensure that the run-up to Christmas 2012 in Ballymoney is a big success and everybody is pulling together to ensure that it is a happy time for everybody, both shop owners and local people and others from afar who travel to Ballymoney.”