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Winter fun time in county town

VISITORS to Maidstone's Winter Lights Festival in November are being urged by organisers to stay for the day and sample everything the town has to offer.

The town's streets will be a shining example of Christmas festivities when the event kicks off on Sunday, November 17, with spectacular lighting effects and a multitude of entertainers and musicians.

The feast of entertainment will see up to 64 performers take to the streets at any one time during the fun which leads up to the Christmas lights switch-on at 4.30pm at the KM-fm radio main stage in front of the Town Hall.

Organisers of the day-long event, which starts at 11am and finishes at 5pm, hope to encourage visitors for the whole day.

Town centre manager Bill Moss, said: "What we want to say to people this year is 'Come to Maidstone for the day, do some Christmas shopping, and have a bite to eat, then enjoy what's on offer'.

"We want them to make their day a bit of a visit, and then be here for the lights switch-on. It is just going to be bigger, brighter and better than it has ever been before."

The day's fun will include games and entertainment by KM-fm. The switch-on on the KM-fm stage will be followed by the launch of a new art piece - an outdoor digital projection, The River.

The unique silent film will be beamed onto the side of the law courts every evening, and will be able to be seen for miles around.

It was compiled by artists Alinah Azadeh and Frederik Lloyd, after they made several journeys on the River Medway in Maidstone and compiled film of interviews with local people.

Lorraine Pinkerton, from project managers Wired Women, said: "The only way to describe it is as an abstract piece of film. All the councillors were very keen that they wanted to do a new media project in a place where people can see it, other than a conventional gallery - where people could interact with it in a much more relaxed place."

During the day there will also be street theatre, organised by Los Kaos in association with Maidstone Town Centre Management Initiative and supported by Maidstone council.

Among the attractions will be a 40 foot leech from IOU Theatre and highly trained Tanzanian acrobats, the Black Eagles, who will be staging some death-defying feats.

Tragic Roundabout, the Brighton-based Balkan buskers and members of the Tunbridge Wells Samba Band will be getting feet tapping, and the Theatre of Adventure will tug at the heart strings with their stirring mobile melodies.

The events will be staged in four different areas, at the Town Hall stage in the High Street, in front of Marks and Spencer, on Gabriel's Hill and between the Chequers Centre and the War Memorial.

The River will shine out each evening until Sunday, November 24, with the best viewing position on the town bridge.

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