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Gok Wan and Mica Paris to switch on lights at Hampstead Christmas Festival as Bjorn Again and Mitch Winehouse perform

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 November 2013

Hampstead Christmas Festival Schools art competition presentations at Hampstead School of Art

Hampstead Christmas Festival Schools art competition presentations at Hampstead School of Art

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Abba parody act Björn Again will be among the star attractions as up to 40,000 festive fun-seekers descend on Hampstead Village for the Hampstead Christmas Festival.

Katla Rech 6yrs from Hampstead Hill School winner of Hampstead Christmas Festival Schools art competition presentations at Hampstead School of ArtKatla Rech 6yrs from Hampstead Hill School winner of Hampstead Christmas Festival Schools art competition presentations at Hampstead School of Art

The annual Yuletide extravaganza takes place on Sunday, November 24 and will see Hampstead High Street closing to traffic as the village is transformed into a winter wonderland.

Last year’s event drew 30,000 visitors of all ages and the organisers at the NW3 Business Association are hoping to smash that total with their biggest bash yet.

TV presenter Gok Wan, who recently moved to Hampstead, and soul singer Mica Paris will be on hand to add some celebrity sparkle by switching on the festive lights.

Described as a “light-hearted satirical spoof”, Björn Again will channel the spirit of Abba on the main stage, which will also host the talents of Mica Paris and Amy Winehouse’s dad Mitch Winehouse.

There will be music and performances across two stages for the first time, with The Amy Winehouse Foundation Stage – named after this year’s chosen charity – offering a platform for younger musicians, from up-and-coming acts to school choirs.

The day will lift off at 11am with a free family screening of Pixar classic Up at the Everyman Cinema in Holly Bush Vale, before the festivities proper get underway at noon.

Attractions include live reindeer, birds of prey, a Santa’s grotto, fairground rides, face painting, a treasure hunt and fire eaters.

Some 85 stalls will offer food from across the globe and all manner of Christmas gifts.

Alexandra Lavery, who has been chairman of the organising committee for four years, said: “Anyone who has not been to the festival hasn’t a clue about what they’re going to encounter, because it’s just a very big and very exciting street festival.

“We have built it into something very professionally run despite the fact that we are all volunteers.

“We are all amateur event organisers and most of the committee are holding down full time jobs or running businesses.”

She added: “The best thing is seeing hundreds of really happy, smiley faces. It’s a huge party, it’s a wonderful day out for a family or for any age group.”

Mrs Lavery said some 750 people have already been involved in putting on the event.

That includes the 230 youngsters from 10 primary schools who entered an art competition organised by the Hampstead School of Art, in Kidderpore Avenue, to find a cover illustration for the programme.

Chosen by an expert judging panel featuring professional artists, the winning image was by six-year-old Katla Rech, of Hampstead Hill School, whose drawing of shooting stars above a townscape will adorn thousands of programmes on the day, while the runners-up will see their works in print within its pages.

A prize-giving for the talented artists was hosted at the Hampstead School of Art last Wednesday.

The Hampstead Christmas Festival is on Sunday November 24 from 12noon until 5pm. Christmas lights have been sponsored by Savills and The William Pears Group and the main stage by Knight Frank.


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