FATHER Christmas will pay Ilkley an early visit this year when he switches on the Christmas lights on Saturday November 23.

The town is preparing to welcome residents and visitors to an afternoon of festive entertainment. The centrepiece of the afternoon will be the switch on of the lights by Father Christmas at 5pm. A procession, led by the Town Crier, will assemble in the War Memorial Gardens to depart at 4.35pm. Children are asked to carry lanterns this year.

There will be a small Christmas market trading adjacent to the bandstand, where Bradford Concert Band and Guiseley Brass band will be playing seasonal music. For an early taste of festive fare you can treat yourself to a glass of mulled wine from Betty’s or a Christmas sausage cooked by local award winning butcher David Lishman.

Nick Hancock, of Stray FM will be master of ceremonies and at 3.45pm he will introduce a programme of street entertainment performed by groups from the local community.

Following the switch on there will be a film show for children whilst they wait to visit Santa in his Grotto in Christchurch.