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The Countdown to Christmas – plans come together for Helmsley’s Big Light Switch On

As Helmsley approaches its Celebrity Christmas Light Switch on and Small Business Saturday celebrations, more events have been added to the line up to help make 2nd December full of festive fun.

Musicians from Ryedale High School will be performing in the Market Place during the morning, keeping toes tapping with some well-known Christmas tunes. Helmsley Community Library will be running activities from 10am to 4pm including a raffle, activities for children and a sale of mystery books.

As well as performing the big switch on at 5pm, TV’s The Yorkshire Vet, Julian Norton, will be at Claridges on Church Street, signing copies of his new book ‘A Yorkshire Vet – Through the Seasons’ from 3.30pm.

Hunters of Helmsley will have local producers in store offering tastings, including The Fruity Kitchen, based in Sutton on Forest, which creates Hunters’ delicious range of marmalades, jams and chutneys. Ryedale Vineyards will also be in store, offering festive tipples to try.

Thomas of Helmsley will be running Souper Saturday from 12 noon, with free samples of its freshly made soup and artisan bread along with mince pies, as well as offering some Christmassy hot drinks to help visitors keep warm.

A raffle will be held to win great family days out in North Yorkshire – with family tickets for Ice Factor’s Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland and Christmas at York Museum Gardens up for grabs. A tombola and Jam Jar Raffle will also take place.

From 4pm, the Town Crier will be welcoming people with his record-breaking cries, and the Swinton Brass Band will get everyone in the mood for the Christmas season, along with mulled wine and mince pies. Santa’s Grotto will also open at 4.30pm, before Julian switches on the lights at 5pm, and at 6pm a procession will take place up to the annual Christmas Tree Festival.

The Christmas Tree Festival, which this year has the theme of ‘stars’ will run from 2nd to 17th December, at the All Saints Church, open daily from 10am to 4pm. A special preview evening will take place on 1st December from 6pm, including music and nibbles. Tickets cost £5 and are available from Elijah Todd newsagents, Viva Hair or on the door. A Star Trail throughout the town, running for the length of the Festival, will be an opportunity to explore some of the towns independent businesses. Entry forms are available at Elijah Todd newsagents.

With the town continuing its annual support of Small Business Saturday, which takes place on 2nd December, many of Helmsley’s independent businesses will be running individual activities and competitions, and will open late that day, for extended Christmas shopping.

The Helmsley Arts Centre will also be running the first two performances of its popular annual pantomime – this year Dick Whittington & His Cat – at 2.30 and 7.30pm.

Jacky Pickering, chair of Helmsley in Business and who runs The Stick Man with husband Keith, said: “The plans are really coming together for the day, and there should be plenty going on to keep visitors entertained and feeling festive, from lovely food tastings to plenty of Christmas music. We can’t wait for Julian Norton to perform our first official light switch on, and we’re sure Santa’s Grotto will be a big hit. Thanks to Ryedale District Council who have made it possible for visitors to park all day at the Cleveland Way Car Park for just £1.50. So, it’s definitely worth coming and making a day – and an evening – of it!”