Jack Frost and an unlikely assortment of animals helped make Malmesbury’s annual Late Christmas Shopping event one of the most successful ever staged.
The organisers feared the worst when heavy storms had been predicted for last Friday.
But the rain arrived a day early, lashing down on Thursday night and clearing the skies for a chilly yet atmospheric Friday.
“We were a bit worried when storms were forecast but happily they arrived the night before,” said Kate Wareham, secretary of event organisers the Malmesbury Chamber of Commerce.
“Friday was a lovely clear and starry night. No snow, unfortunately but it was very frosty, which certainly added to the Christmassy atmosphere.”
Up to 1,500 people were estimated to have converged into Malmesbury’s historic town centre for the event, where a “small-scale Bath Christmas Market” was promised.
Four streets were closed to traffic to make way for a string of festive stalls and huts along with fairground rides, a Christmas parade and, for the first time, a nativity feature.
Installed at St Aldhelm’s churchyard, the nativity included animals such as a donkey, a Shetland pony, a goat, an alpaca and some lambs – courtesy of Abbey View Alpacas and Brinkworth House Business Centre.
Children from St Joseph’s School joined the animals for the nativity play throughout the three-hour-long festivities.
Mrs Wareham said: “It was the first time we have featured a nativity and it really went down well. The children enjoyed it and everyone loved the animals “Hopefully the nativity will become a regular feature in the late night shopping event.
“It was a fantastic night. We got very good feedback from the traders and there were a lot of happy faces all round.”
Commenting on the Malmesbury Police Facebook site, Neighbourhood Sergeant Martin Alvis said: “What a great night – loads of people really getting into the Christmas spirit. I don’t know about you but I felt Christmassy for the first time this year. A crime-free evening with no reports of any anti-social behaviour.
“Malmesbury, you have done yourselves proud again. Great to see so many familiar faces as well.”
Authors: Gazette & Herald - Malmesbury