Walton residents were out in numbers on Saturday 25th November for the annual ‘Festival of Light’ celebration.  The all-day event, organised by ‘Love Walton’, through the Walton Business Improvement District, brought the community together for a day of entertainment which culminated in the turning on of the town’s Christmas lights. 

Throughout the day, a thriving market packed with Christmas gifts and hospitality stalls filled the high street alongside fun fair rides for the children to enjoy. Shoppers were entertained with Christmas songs sung by local school choirs and choral groups who took to the stage outside the Heart Shopping Centre, adding to the festive cheer. Even Father Christmas made an early appearance, offering selfies and taking present requests from excited children.  

When the sun went down, children from local schools, the Elmbridge CAN charity, sea cadets and other groups excitedly gathered in the town holding lanterns they had decorated for the light procession.  Led by the talented Oatlands Pipe Band, they marched with pride along the high street, holding their lanterns high, while crowds lined the streets cheering them on.  Joining them on the parade were a stilt walking Snow Queen (think Frozen!) as well as a magical owl, swans, an illuminated giant penguin and bird sculptures created by the talented artist, Imogen Andrews.  As they approached their destination back at the main stage, they were greeted by comperes from Radio Wey, Elmbridge’s Mayor, Richard Williams, and special guests from a local theatre production as well as Gina Broadhurst, Ms Great Britain Classic 2023-24.   

After an enthusiastic rendition of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, the Mayor took to the stage to thank the organisers and the community for coming together and announced that “We are going to be running events like this throughout the year and bringing lots of people into Walton.” The Mayor’s speech was followed by a countdown to the turning on of the lights, signalling the start of Christmas in Walton-on-Thames.  

As well as a fun event for all the family, the festival promotes community spirit and charitable giving. This year, the festival supported the RentStart Winter Campaign to help those facing homelessness, as well as The Walton and Hersham Foodbank who were collecting for their Christmas Hampers.  

At a time when high streets are struggling, this fantastic event brought Walton residents out in force, showing their support for their local retailers with great community spirit.