The countdown to the big switch-on of the Christmas lights in Ayr is now well and truly underway. With just days to go until the annual event on Sunday, 19 November, businesses in the town centre have rallied round to call for the biggest celebration yet.
This year Ayr will celebrate its very own little stars with a brand new approach for the annual Christmas switch-on. Following a competition to find a young person who loves the festive season the new 'Little Stars Light up Ayr' event will see the winner flick the switch to kick-start the official countdown to Christmas.
With a host of events taking place on the day including a new Little Stars Ayr Christmas Parade; Little Stars Light Up Ayr at the Wallace Tower stage, the Polar Express, Santa's Grotto, Spirits of Christmas characters let loose on High Street, and the brand new Newmarket Street stage, there's a host of activity on offer for people of every age.
Councillor Brian McGinley, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism & Leisure said the town centre would come alive, "Every year thousands of people flock to Ayr to see the entertainment and with young people taking centre stage I think we're in for an extra special celebration.
"With the switch-on now only a few days away, hundreds of people are working hard behind the scenes to make sure everything goes without a hitch, with the main aim of being sure everyone has a great day on Sunday.
"Ayr remains a vibrant shopping centre and with the added attractions for our annual festival helping to add extra sparkle to the weekend, we're hoping the businesses will enjoy a great season in the run up to Christmas."
The day begins at noon with Santa, his reindeers and an array of Christmas characters arriving at Fish Cross before making their way up High Street. The grand finale comes at 5pm when the cast of Ayr Gaiety's Cinderella pantomime join the winner of our competition for a Christmas sing-along before the countdown to the lights being switched on.
This year, the event will be raising money for charity, including a special partnership with NSPCC and activities in support of local charities BuyMSH (Ayr Central Santa's grotto) and the Ayrshire Cancer Support Santa Dash. Businesses including John Stewart Jewellers, Mercure Ayr, RBS, Renaldos, Rogerson Footwear, Scruffy Duffy's, Tam o' Shanter Inn, Trump Turnberry, plus a group of individuals from Girvan have all supported the NSPCC campaign by donating gold star sponsors.
Paul Cockram, Head of Fundraising for NSPCC Scotland: "We're proud to be partnering with Ayr's Christmas celebrations as we try to make sure more children and young people have a safe and happy Christmas this year.
"We'd like to thank local businesses and individuals for their fantastic support – we're thrilled that so many people across Ayrshire are behind the campaign. Please look out for NSPCC volunteer collectors on Sunday."
Newmarket Street traders, led by Steven Brown Art and Ayrshire Daily News, are creating their own programme of entertainment on the switch-on day and have even purchased brand new Christmas lights for the occasion.
Euan Ruddick, spokesman for Steven Brown Art and the Ayrshire Daily News said the attractions on Newmarket would help to add extra sparkle to this year's festive season, "We're excited to be working with South Ayrshire Council and the business community to deliver a fantastic event showcasing Ayr at this magical time of year."
Owen Kerr Signs will once again sponsor the school Christmas lamppost competition so look out for the talented children of South Ayrshire's artwork appearing on the streets.
Jean Armour Jewellers, Smith Street Ayr will be selling special star themed jewellery and donating 10% of all sales to NSPCC so pop in and see what is on offer.
It's not too late for businesses and individuals to become involved. Retailers can offer to sell boxes of special star pin badges to raise money for NSPCC. Contact Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a box.
The programme for Little Stars Light Up Ayr is available here.
Switch-on events elsewhere in South Ayrshire:
Lighting Up Prestwick: Sunday, 19 November, Station Road (13:30-17:30). This year there is a full programme of entertainment hosted by Colin McArdle including X-Factor star Emily Middlemas, Highway and many more. The event will include a Christmas market, fairground attractions, and Santa's Grotto.
Troon Wintertainment: Sunday, 19 November 2017 (12:00 – 17:00) Parade of Organisations with Santa and Mrs Claus, Christmas Shopping, Entertainment in various venues finishing with switch-on of Christmas Lights and then the lighting of the Beacon.
Maybole Christmas Lights: Friday, 1 December (Details TBC)
Girvan Street Party: Sunday, 3 December on Dalrymple Street (15:00 – 17:30) With Tribute band Little Fix, Road Runner, Carol Singers, Santa's Grotto & much more. The festival promises loads of fun for all the family.
For details of all the Christmas events happening in Ayr, Girvan, Maybole, Prestwick and Troon visit: www.southayrshirechristmas.com