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Countdown to Christmas has begun with One Maidstone lights switch on show

The countdown to Christmas has begun and suddenly there is an air of festivity about the place replacing the Covid gloom.

Tonight, Maidstone celebrated its annual Christmas lights turn-on - not with the usual outdoor event in Jubilee Square, but with a webcast online show organised by the town's business group One Maidstone.

Performers from the Maidstone Dance Studios
Performers from the Maidstone Dance Studios

Last year almost 5,000 people crowded into the town centre for the switch on. Tonight people were able to stay out of the rain and watch from the comfort of their own homes with the kettle boiling.

A number of local entertainers had pre-recorded their acts - each filmed in a different location in the town, and they were then strung together to make a 50-minute free show.

Interspersed with them were messages from Blow Garden, Robert Dyas, Wellness Markets, Biz Space, the Peggy Sue Vintage Bar and many others promoting their businesses and wishing viewers a merry Christmas.

Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue, the Urban Blue Bus and Arriva also recorded Christmas messages.

At its peak, 826 families were tuned in to watch the show, although this had dropped off to 580 by the end.

Magician Michael McIntyre playing tricks on an unsuspecting victim: Picture One Maidstone
Magician Michael McIntyre playing tricks on an unsuspecting victim: Picture One Maidstone

Performing for us were Amy Ansell who sang Silent Night from the Maidstone Distillery in Market Buildings, while magician Michael Mcintyre presented some astounding card tricks from the Wonderhub in Middle Row.

The All Saints Church Choir sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas from St Philip's Church in the town, while students from the MEPA College and MEPA Studios presented some energetic routines from The Mall shopping centre.

Girls from the Maidstone Dance Studios gave us two performances filmed in The Royal Star Arcade and Victoria Elaine Bridal shop and Tyler Lydford gave us his rendition of Amazing Grace from the Mumu nightclub in Week Street.

The Grinch (courtesy of Corporate Entertainment Professionals) tried to ruin everything by stealing all the presents in Fremlin Walk, but he failed happily.

For the hard of hearing, Hi Kent presented a signed performance of Jingle Bells, while The Fairy’s Tale in Market Buildings gave us ballet from The Nutcracker.

Nigel Downes of the Street Pastors
Nigel Downes of the Street Pastors

Nigel Downes, the co-ordinator of the Maidstone Street Pastors led viewers in the Lord's Prayer from St Luke’s Church.

The show ended with a view of the town's Christmas lights panorama.

If you missed it "live," the show is still available to view here.

The Youtube video has also been embedded on the One Maidstone website and Facebook page.

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