Lowestoft town centre bids to woo festive shoppers
RETAILERS in Lowestoft have embarked on a major effort to attract families into the town centre in the run-up to Christmas – and are urging people to back their local shops and businesses.
For the first time in many years, Lowestoft will boast a real Christmas tree in its main shopping area after traders embraced the festive spirit by pledging hundreds of pounds to help fund it.
And this week details were announced for an all-day Christmas lights switch-on event on Saturday, November 24.
A fun-filled free event for families will take place from 11am to 5pm, prior to the switching on of the lights on the tree – which will replace the one with blue lights that has illuminated Lowestoft for many years.
A delighted Lowestoft town centre manager Emma King told The Journal yesterday: 'We are very excited that for the first time for years and years a real Christmas tree will be on display in Lowestoft.'
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The Lowestoft Town Management Partnership (LTMP) is funding the lights, placement and installation of the tree but it has received welcome support from local businesses, which have stepped in to sponsor it. Funding has so far been provided by Specsavers, Cash Generator, the Britten Centre and Godfrey's.
Mrs King said: 'This is another example of businesses in the town working together to get involved and take Lowestoft forward on top of what has been a very positive year for the town. To have a real tree is such an important thing – it is something we have been asked about and pursuing for years. Now we want locals to turn out for what will be a great occasion for all the family at the lights switch-on event.'
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In the build-up to the free Christmas lights switch-on event on the Saturday, the LTMP has arranged for a European gift and craft market to be held in the town centre for five days from Tuesday, November 20.
There will also be other incentives to attract shoppers into Lowestoft during the busy pre-Christmas period. These will include late night shopping every Thursday, starting on November 29, with Soundwaves Entertainment providing the music and entertainment for shoppers in the town centre late into the evening.
From Wednesday, December 12, an Italian Market will be held in London Road North for five days, and there will be further festive fun for all the family on Saturday, December 15 at a Christmas fun day.
Praising the efforts of traders in working together, Mrs King said: 'It is such great news that we will be having a real tree in the town centre again and our thanks go to the businesses who offered help to make this happen. I just think this proves how far Lowestoft have come and how the retailers really are behind their town.'
Martin Halliday, chief executive of the Marina Theatre, said he hoped local people would support traders' efforts and turn-out in force for the lights switch-on.
He said: 'We want everyone to enjoy the whole day and we will have some very special guests, including some cast members from the big family pantomime Aladdin at the Marina, Father Christmas and lots of other surprises. We are hoping that Waveney District Council will be generous once more this year and grant free parking at various times over the Christmas period.
'We have a town centre that features three major independent department stores, very big chain stores, lots of national retailers, numerous independent shops and lots of places to eat and rest those weary legs after a day of shopping –- we would urge people to shop local and come to Lowestoft for the whole package this Christmas.'
Mrs King added: 'With the family fun day running throughout the day in the run-up to the lights switch-on we hope that the turning on of the real tree will be a spectacle to warm the whole town up.'
Proud to be sponsoring the town's new Christmas tree, Vipul Raval, from Specsavers, said: 'We are delighted to be part of the team of retailers bringing a real tree into town, Specsavers is supporting LTMP in every way possible and are very proud to be part of a positive future for Lowestoft.'
Jim Godfrey, managing director of LR Godfrey (Lowestoft) Ltd, said: 'Godfrey's supports Lowestoft root and branch –- enjoy the tree!'
Rysia McCallum, of Cash Generator, said: 'We are very pleased to be part of the initiatives going on in the town centre at the moment and to be contributing towards sponsoring the tree, which is a great step forward for Lowestoft.'
Dan Poitras, manager of the Britten Centre, added: 'The Britten Centre is happy to see a real tree coming into the town centre and we are delighted to be one of the sponsors helping to fund it.'