The annual Christmas lights in Highgate Village are threatened this year after vital funding was "withdrawn at the last minute".

Highgate Festive Event's committee, made up of three traders, is desperately trying to raise the funds necessary to switch on their annual festive lights.

Estate agents Chris Underhill, from Prickett & Ellis, James Wilkinson, of Winkworths and Charlotte Bourne, of Taylor Gibbs create the magic for locals and visitors every year.

They received contributions from both Camden and Haringey Councils over the last couple of years, which helped cover a £16,000 bill, but funds don't appear to be available this year.

Chris said: "Both councils have withdrawn their funding at the last minute. We did get something last year and the year before. Between the two of them we get about £6,700, a third of the overall cost, so we're scrambling around now."

Ham & High: The crowd coming to watch the Highgate Christmas lights switch on in 2022The crowd coming to watch the Highgate Christmas lights switch on in 2022 (Image: Charlotte Bourne)Last year's Christmas lights switch-on was a phenomenal success as Rupert Grint, aka Ron Weasley from Harry Potter, and comedian Alex Zane volunteers their time. 

Chris added: "With Rupert last year we had a fantastic response. There were around 1,000 people and we were rattling buckets and only made a couple of hundred. It's nice but even if even if everybody gave £1 that's £1,000 towards the next year's lights.

"At the moment we're scrabbling for pennies, and every penny counts."

He said there was support from organisations including the Highgate Society, the Channing School and the George Michael Foundation.

"The chains don't really want to know, the banks have closed down and all of the independent shops are finding it tough. We're trying to do it without troubling the traders but we will have to," added Chris.

Ham & High: Use the QR code to access the Just Giving page to help out with Highgate's Christmas Lights appealUse the QR code to access the Just Giving page to help out with Highgate's Christmas Lights appeal (Image: Charlotte Bourne)

He said in a survey a few years ago traders said when the lights go up turnover goes up 20%.

He added: "Everyone gets in the Christmas spirit and goes out buying and eating and having a drink.

"I've been doing this 25 years now," he added. "It used to be me with a couple of lads with ladders putting up the lights ourselves but with health and safety it's all changed and we need contractors and insurance, offset the carbon to make sure it's as green as possible. It's frustrating but by hook or by crook we'll get the lights up."

The events committee are hoping that they will raise funds during their Halloween Trail on October 31 between 5 and 7pm.  

Starting at the Highgate Society at 10a South Grove, participants collect the trail map and then explore the Village, where they will also bump into people carrying buckets.

"We will be inviting donations for the Christmas lights from participants so the more the merrier," said Chris.

Camden and Haringey Councils have both been contacted for comment.

Donations can be dropped off at either Prickett & Ellis, Winkworth or Taylor Gibbs all on the High Street.

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