Crowds turn out
HUNDREDS of people packed into Middleton Gardens to see the Christmas lights switched on.
Ahead of the main event, performers took to the stage in the gardens to entertain the crowd, including the award-winning Middleton Brass Band, Langley Theatre Workshop, Tracing Steps and Middleton Pop Stars.
Sisters Paris and Savannah Kunyo, aged five and seven, performed four songs – Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus, Be My Baby and Santa Claus is Coming to Town – and the audience clapped and danced along.
There were food stalls to enjoy and Middleton Round Table put on free mulled wine and mince pies to get everyone in the festive mood.
Santa and his elves paid a visit to the event, where there was also a funfair and a free photo booth providing souvenirs of the night.
A raffle was held to raise money for local charities, with donations from businesses including Lords the Butchers, Lean and Green and The Milk Barn, and Niche Hair and Beauty.
Market traders also donated prizes, such as a sweet hamper.
Ros Liddle and Jan Eaton-Dykes from Middleton in Bloom won the Middleton Shopping Centre competition to ‘Be a Star’ for the night, in recognition of their hard work around the First World War centenary and installing poppies around the town.
The pair switched on the lights alongside Naaira Zaman, the mayoress of Rochdale, Coun Donna Williams, the chair of Middleton Township, and the man himself – Santa, before the event culminated with a fireworks display.
Victoria Davies, town centre and market manager, from Middleton Town Centre Management, who organised the event in partnership with Middleton Shopping Centre and Rochdale council said: “We again had an amazing turn out, there were hundreds of people here.
“All our performers on stage were brilliant and got everyone in the Christmas spirit.
“The atmosphere was great all day and had a real community feel about it, especially with the ‘Be a Star’ competition and having the lights switched on by our ‘special guests’, voted for by the people of Middleton, which seemed to make it extra special. The people of Middleton once again did us proud.”