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Kent Christmas light switch-on events 2014: check out our guide to the county's festive celebrations, from Ashford to Folkestone via Bluewater

Prepare to be dazzled: What’s On rounds up some of the best Christmas lights switch-ons as famous faces – and children’s TV favourites – come to Kent for the start of the festive season.

Light switch-ons will draw a crowd across the county
Light switch-ons will draw a crowd across the county

Postman Pat is heading to Ashford with kmfm breakfast hosts Garry and Emma for the town’s Christmas lights switch-on. The popular children’s TV character will star as the festive countdown gets under way in the town centre on Saturday, November 22, with plenty of additional fun for the whole family to enjoy, including festive food, late-night shopping and choir singers. The grand lights switch-on will take place at 4.30pm at the bandstand.

Bluewater’s Christmas Light Night is on Friday, November 14. A fireworks display to the soundtrack of musical Christmas favourites will star, with lasers and fountains also featuring. The entertainment starts at 6.30pm. A twinkling 15ft Christmas tree will be at the Moon Court, by Marks and Spencer, to support local charities across Kent, and Bluewater’s much-loved iconic reindeer decorations will be brought to life through illumination to greet guests as they arrive at the shopping centre.

Unusual gift ideas at a range of interesting stalls and entertainment will be on offer at Broadstairs and St Peter’s Chamber of Commerce Christmas Fayre and lights switch-on in Pierremont Park on Saturday, December 6. Father Christmas will be in his grotto and there will be festive music with local choirs before the fabulous tree lights are switched on at 4.45pm. And there are sure to be lots of fun activities to keep little ones amused while the grown-ups browse. Meanwhile, the lights switch-on at Westwood Cross shopping centre is on Saturday, November 15. X Factor star Sam Callahan will take to the stage and perform a 20-minute set before the lights are officially switched on at 5pm by Ricky Groves from Eastenders and Broadstairs’ own star of the Great British Bake Off, Chetna Makan.

Lucy Watson from Made in Chelsea will be in Maidstone
Lucy Watson from Made in Chelsea will be in Maidstone

The city centre’s lights will be flicked on from 6pm on Thursday, November 20. The annual Christmas Market opens at 4pm before stars of this year’s Marlowe Theatre panto will switch on the city’s festive lights in St George’s Street. Live music also features.

The festive fun kicks off in Dartford High Street on Saturday, November 15, with the Big Christmas Switch On – which promises to be bigger and better than ever. During the day, there will be lots of family-friendly activities, all building up to the Christmas lights being switched on at 5.30pm. There will be entertainment for all, including music from Jamie Johnson (The Voice), Rough Copy (X Factor) and Gareth Gates.

In Faversham, youngsters aged from five to 11 are in with a shout with turning the lights on ahead of the big switch on Saturday, November 29 by writing a letter to Santa explaining why they want to do so. Entries should be sent to the post box at Sweet Scene before Thursday, November 20 with permission from parents and guardians. Music will be performed by the Faversham Brass Band, who have played during the event for the last 32 years, as well as school choirs in the morning and the Rock Choir at around 2.30pm. A Christmas tree will go up in Market Place in the next few weeks and organisers have said never-seen-before features will go on display in Preston Street. The lights will be switched on in Market Place at 5pm with a night food and craft market with fairy lights, mulled wine and cider.

There will be two events to look forward to in Folkestone. The Creative Quarter's lights go on at 5.30pm on Friday, November 21. Then on Saturday, November 29, the High Street Christmas lights will come alive at 4.30pm with kmfm DJ and local lad Ben Pearce appearing.

Christmas lights will be glowing across Kent very soon
Christmas lights will be glowing across Kent very soon

In Herne Bay, seriously ill five-year-old Connor Olsen will flick the switch in Mortimer Street on Saturday, December 5 with a series of events from 4pm. Entertainment includes music from Michael Buble tribute special and popular Bay crooner Martin Farbrother while children will also receive treats from Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. Traditional carols and mulled wine will also be available.

From 4 to 7pm on Thursday, November 20 the Christmas lights will be switched on in Fremlin Walk, Maidstone. kmfm breakfast hosts Garry and Emma will be there to join in the celebrations. One of the stars of Made In Chelsea, Lucy Watson, will be flicking the switch alongside a line-up of music acts, featuring national and local names. There will be a reduced fanfare in the town this year, though, as the big switch-on event in Jubilee Square will not be taking place in 2014. Instead, the lights will come on at the same time as the event in Fremlin Walk.

Postman Pat and Jess the cat will take centre stage in Ashford
Postman Pat and Jess the cat will take centre stage in Ashford

Christmas lights will be sparkling all over Medway very soon. Chatham town centre is first up, on Friday, November 14, with Red Bird from the gaming app Angry Birds doing the honours at the junction of the High Street with Meeting House Lane. On Saturday, November 15, in Rochester, The Voice finalist Jamie Johnson will flick the switch at the High Street/Blue Boar Lane location, while East 17 will be singing their famous festive hit Stay Another Day and turning on the illuminations at Dockside Outlet Centre. It’s the turn of Gillingham on Friday, November 21, when Sponge Bob will be at Smiths Square in the High Street, while Octonaut Captain Barnacles will be in Friary Place, Strood, on Saturday, November 22. Illuminations will go on at Rainham Shopping Centre on Friday, November 28, when the guest will be Barney from Dinosaur Train. Children’s entertainments run from 3.45pm to 5.15pm, except Rochester, which starts at noon. Lights will be switched on at 5pm. At Dockside shopping centre, the lights will glow alight on Saturday, November 15. Boyband East 17 will do the honours at 4pm, after performing their smash hit Christmas single, Stay Another Day.

The Sittingbourne Christmas lights switch-on is in the High Street at 4.30pm on Saturday, November 29. Thanks to the Sittingbourne Christmas Lights Association, a whole host of events are lined up, including quizzes, stalls, Santa Claus on his sleigh and general merriment.

Voice star Jamie Johnson will be in Rochester
Voice star Jamie Johnson will be in Rochester

Sheppey’s switch-on takes place between 4pm and 4.30pm on Saturday, November 29, in the Sheerness High Street. Illuminations have been installed around the Clock Tower, High Street and the Broadway. Following the switch-on, a lantern parade and Christmas market is being held in the High Street on Saturday, December 13.

Santa will be taking a tour of a Kent town in his horse-drawn sleigh before switching on the Christmas lights and taking up residence in an Enchanted Forest. The Tunbridge Wells lights switch-on takes place on Thursday, November 13 at Royal Victoria Place – with kmfm breakfast hosts Garry and Emma hosting. Santa will be in the Pantiles from 3.30pm and will then make his way through the town on his sleigh, first to the Assembly Hall Theatre and then to Royal Victoria Place shopping centre. He will switch on the lights with the cast from the Assembly Hall Theatre pantomime, Peter Pan, at 6.15pm at Royal Victoria Place. There will be free parking at Royal Victoria Place from 4pm to 8pm. Visit www.royalvictoriaplace.com

Whitstable’s Christmas lights will be switched on in the town centre on Saturday, November 29. The switch-on will include a lantern procession through the town, and the focal point of the event will be St Alphege Church, where the Christmas Tree of Life will be found. The lights will go on at 4.15pm.

Have we missed your Christmas lights switch-on? Email the details to whatsoneditor@thekmgroup.co.uk

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