A Potted History Christmas Lights
at
Stony Stratford
For a small Market Town, Stony Stratford boasts
one of the largest and most attractive displays of Christmas Lights
anywhere in the country.
Regular Visitors
We know from letters and e.mails, people regularly travel long distances to enjoy our spectacular Christmas Lights and the other attractions that Stony Stratford has to offer, especially those who used to live locally but have now moved away.
50th Anniversary
A seasonal tradition started in 1961 by the former Stony Stratford Chamber of Trade, in 2012 we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of our wonderful Christmas Lights. Now
organised by the Stony Stratford Business Association, a small but dedicated team of hardworking volunteers spend the best part of ?? weekends in cherrypickers and up ladders erecting cables, Christmas trees and a whole range of other stuff to recreate
our annual pre-Christmas winter magic.
The Early Switch-On
Until 1989 we used to switch on our Christmas Lights on a Friday evening. It was a fairly low key affair with a short parade of vintage cars and a few people on horseback. We would gather in the High Street, wait for the lights to go on, say 'Ooohh' and
then go home.
Our 1st Switch-On Funday
In 1990 we decided to move our ceremony to a Saturday and make it more of a celebration by adding a wide range of family attractions and activities. The Switch-On Funday was born and has been gathering pace ever since. Without doubt, it's now one of the major highlights in the town's busy events calendar.
Following the traditional Church Calendar, Switch-On Day is always the last Saturday before Advent. This is usually the last Saturday in November, but occasionally the first Saturday in December.
Christmas Lights at Stony Stratford Committee
Because of the scale of the event and the time required to organise it, the Switch-On Funday is now organised by a completely separate committee Christmas Lights at Stony Stratford (CLASS). Naturally we keep in close touch with the team who actually put up the lights. Click here to find out how you can get involved with either . . .
Selected Timeline
* 1840 : Hayes Works opens on the site of the current Hayes Wharf housing development.
* 1850 : Clarence House (later to be renamed York House) is built next door to Hayes Works as a private residence for a local banker.
* 1920's : Former local resident Tony King (a Telegram Boy at the time) remembers the apprentices at Hayes Boat Yard holding a ‘Flame Procession’ (possibly linked to a Summer Fete??)
* 1961 : The Stony Stratford Chamber of Trade organises a Christmas Lights Scheme for Stony Stratford.
* 1982 : The Stony Stratford Business Association takes over the Christmas Lights Scheme from the Chamber of Trade
* 1989 : The last Switch-On to be held on a Friday Evening
* 1990 : The first Saturday Switch-On Funday. Extract from a letter written by David Odell to Bob Adams (then an Arts Officer at MK Borough Council) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ==>
Attractions that year included Model Vintage Train, Stalls, Refreshments and Father Christmas in the Public Hall
* 1991 - 2nd Switch-On Funday : A ‘Procession of Flame’ leaves from the former National Tyre Depot opposite York Road and processes up the High Street, reviving the old tradition of the Apprentices from Hayes Boat Yard. Torches were made from baked bean tins stuffed with wadding, soaked with paraffin and fixed to the end of long sticks - great fun and sadly missed by
some of us (clearly before the days of our current over-obsession with Health
& Safety !!). A Christmas Ceilidh took place in the former Community Centre (now the Orthodox Greek Church) the same evening.
* 1999 - 10th Switch-On Funday : Concerns about overcrowding in the High
Street at Switch-On time led us to close off and include the Market Square in
our celebrations. A Procession with a Fancy Dress Competition was organised from Market Square, past Budgens and into the High Street. The minutes read :

                                

Bob Adams suggested 'carrying things on sticks’ so many more people would be able to see the results . . .
This space has been left blank and is awaiting
a photograph of the original Hayes apprentices
procession.
If anyone reading this has any information or
photographs of this event that they are willing
to share, then please click here to send me an
email.




* 2000 - 11th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. Our first ever Lantern Procession becomes part of the Switch-On Funday. A total of 20 lanterns were made, but unfortunately they never realised their true potential because the Procession took place at 3.00pm in broad daylight !!
* 2001 - 12th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Pantomime
* 2002 - 13th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Christmas Around the World. First Procession to leave from York House Centre.
* 2003 - 14th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Christmas Party
* 2004 - 15th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Christmas Feast. Approx. 120 Lanterns in the Procession. First Christmas Tree on the Market Square.
* 2005 - 16th Switch-On Funday : Theme : The Twelve Days of Christmas. Approx. 200 Lanterns in the Procession.
* 2006 - 17th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Winter Wonderland. Approx. 210 Lanterns in the Procession.
* 2007 - 18th Switch-On Funday : Theme : The Snowman & other Christmas tales.
* 2008 - 19th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Angels & The Nativity
* 2009 - 20th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Pantomime (again!)
* 2010 - 21st Switch-On Funday : Theme : Christmas Songs
* 2011 - 22nd Switch-On Funday : Theme : Cartoon Christmas. Approx. 270 Lanterns in the Procession
* 2012 - 23rd Switch-On Funday : Theme : Christmas Under the Sea.
* 2013 - 24th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Christmas in Space. Approx. 280 Lanterns in the Procession
* 2014 - 25th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Christmas in Toyland
* 2015 - 26th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Christmas in Wonderland
* 2016 - 27th Switch-On Funday : Theme : A Mystical Magical Christmas
* 2017 - 28th Switch-On Funday : Theme : Santa's Workshop
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