Father Christmas arrived in style this year, thanks to Metrobus, to open the Southwater Christmas Festival on Saturday.
He had a little help from his elves, Dandini played by Olly Pike from the Horsham pantomime Cinderella, and Peppa Pig.
Southwater Junior Academy Year 6 choir welcomed Father Christmas into Lintot Square by performing on the main stage.
More than 300 children visited Father Christmas in his grotto in Beeson House, and judging by all the happy faces it could be said that they all loved the gifts and balloons.
Outside in Lintot Square on the main stage, sponsored by Shingadias Londis Southwater, there were performances throughout the day from:
Southwater Junior Academy Year 6 Choir – Who opened the festival performing a selection of Christmas carols.
K.D.F Academy of Dance and Fitness – Performed a variety of dances from ballet to musical theatre. All the children performing had a fantastic day.
Forbidden Harmonies, a three piece acoustic girl group from Woking who performed a great set to a very appreciative audience.
Horsham Rock Choir performed a varied set of songs including some Christmas favourites to get the crowd rocking and dancing along.
Divas Undaunted, the all female choir who performed a selection of songs that had the crowd joining in.
The Elsden School of Dancing gave an accomplished display with some tapping and dancing from the Junior and senior groups.
JunkYard Sons, a five piece original blues band from Worthing, really had the crowd rocking.
Jodie Munday, a local singer songwriter performed some of her own catchy songs with great support from the crowd.
The final act before the Christmas lights were switched on was Chris Andre who performed a set of classics including a few Christmas numbers to get everyone into the spirit.
He played guitar and violin and had the crowd dancing and singing along. Afterwards Chris said: “It was a lovely event, everyone in Southwater seems so friendly and I had lots of fun there.”
Then came the big event with Father Christmas and Chris Andre switching on the Southwater Christmas lights. Everyone gathered around the Christmas tree to sing carols, accompanied by Horsham Youth Concert Band, with the singing was led by Reverend Kath Jones of Southwater Community Methodist Church and Reverend Kesari Godfrey of the Church of the Holy Innocents Southwater.
After the carols there was then a very special performance from Concept who are a five piece boy band from Basingstoke who really got the crowd going with a great performance. Concept have seen success recently when they reached the judges’ houses stage of this year’s X Factor competition, and only narrowly missed out on a place on the live shows. But Louis Walsh’s loss was Southwater’s gain and there were a lot of screaming fans who were very pleased to meet the band after their performance.
Shayler’s Children’s Fun Fair was back by popular demand, and provided some fantastic entertainment and rides for the whole family. We are very lucky to have Shayler’s entertainment return to Southwater and we look forward to seeing them again soon.
There were arts and crafts in the upper youth club area, and fun and games in the Library with Festive Bear story time and a giant Teddy bear – something for all the family.
The whole event was compered by Southwater youth worker Angie Choat who didn’t stop all day.
Chairman Peter Buckley said: “It was fantastic to see so many people at this year’s event. We were very lucky to have such great weather and the quality of entertainment, attractions and stalls were the best ever.”
A huge thank you to Southwater Parish Council, Southwater Sports Club and Angie Choat who collectively organised the event, and an even bigger thank you to all the volunteers, performers, stall holders, retail units, Shayer’s Entertainment for their fantastic fun fair, Highgain event services for the stage, sound and lighting, The Capital Horsham for providing Dandini and Bohannas Entertainments for providing Peppa Pig.