On the 24th of November the London borough of Harrow in north-west London celebrated the beginning of the festive season with a free party for everyone in the town centre from 12 to 6 pm.
This event wasn’t just about the switching on of a massive Christmas tree’s illuminations as most towns and cities do at this time of year with the help of a local celebrity or two. Harrow council ‘pushed the boat out’ to include a sizeable outdoor stage located by The Royal Oak that featured a Rock Choir and a booming ‘Stomp’ style band called the Dhol Drummers.
Fairground ride style amusements for young people were installed along the high street. A lovely bright Santas grotto stall invited each child to receive a greeting and a present from Santa and Mary Christmas. There were cheeky elves, costumed characters, face painting and Bad Rapping Santa’s and some fake snow to amuse children of all ages.
The Christmas tree lights were switched on by the management of St George’s Shopping Centre at 5pm where a large and jolly crowd had gathered.
Many shoppers enjoyed roasted chestnuts and buying seasonal merchandise in the Christmas fair stalls that lined the central pedestrianised area. There were so many people in the square enjoying the musical entertainment that it was nearly impossible to enter the covered mall at the end of the high street.
A policemen who was on duty at the event was relaxed and cheerful and said that Harrow was “on the whole a good place to live and was a relatively well off area without too many major problems.”
The finale was a good five minutes worth of fireworks which created one of the best local displays anyone could remember, filling the cold winters night sky with colourful bursts, fizzing rockets and hundreds of metallic stars.
The council allocated precious resources to host the celebration to ensure that as many folk as possible visit the commercial heart of the district. They are keen for those living in Harrow to boost the local economy by buying their presents and spending their leisure money at the towns wide selection of local businesses, instead of travelling into London’s West End or any of the other new retail centres a short drive away.
It was not easy to tell if the shops had benefited from the event itself as most people were enjoying the activities outdoors although the coffee shops were doing a brisk trade in hot drinks as the temperature struggled to keep above zero.
A multiculturally diverse community means that there are several restaurants offering cuisine from around the world in Harrow. Khatoon on Station Road is a good example and is a Persian restaurant that was full of diners enjoying dinner, after a successfully festive afternoon and an impressive and atmospheric display of lights.