THERE was a record turnout for this year’s Christmas Festival on Sunday when people flocked to the town centre to enjoy the biggest event on Tonbridge’s calendar.
An estimated nine thousand people packed into the High Street, an increase of two thousand on last year, according to the Tonbridge Rotary Club which organised the event.
The day began at 2pm as the TS Brilliant Reunion Band marching down the High Street to the specially erected stage by the Water Gate.
Crowds cheered the four and five year old Razzamataz ‘minis’ who sung their hearts out. They provided a perfect start to a string of musical acts that performed throughout the day.
They were introduced by enthusiastic compere Dave Mac who ensured there was never a dull moment throughout the whole day.
In the High Street, there was a vast array of stalls, providing gift ideas and food and drink for the festival-goers and there was a chance to raise money for charity by the local Lions, who were selling town calendars and the Tonbridge Cottage Hospital League of Friends.
The Hawkforce Falconry stall drew a great deal of attention from passers-by.Tonbridge Falconer, Sarah Hunt, introduced people to Luna, the Dark-Crested Barn Owl. She said: “Everyone really enjoyed the day. We come along every year and it always good.”
The only notable absentee was Father Christmas, who was clearly busy at the North Pole, preparing for the special day.
At around 4pm, the Mayor Cllr Mark Rhodes was joined on stage by the cast for the Tonbridge Lions Cinderella Pantomime to switch on the lights. A brief fusing issue with the Christmas tree drew laughter rather than disappointment from the crowd.
By 6pm the area around the stage and the bridge was packed and the atmosphere filled with anticipation. Expectations were exceeded by an impressive display of fireworks, filling up the winter’s sky, above a beautifully lit up Tonbridge Castle.
Roars of approval closed the show, as Dave Mac asked the town: ‘Shall we do it again next year?’
Rotary Club President, Brian Piner, described the day as a ‘major success’, adding: “We were there at eight in the morning until about eight at night. It was a long day but very well worth it.
“All the acts performed free of charge, which was fantastic and we were very lucky with the weather.
“There was a great array of stalls and I would think a lot of money was spent with local traders. It brought a lot of business to the community. All the pubs and restaurant were absolutely full and I think everyone had a great evening out.
“Everyone helped make it the best festival ever. It will be difficult to top it next year.”