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Photo gallery: Gok Wan, Mica Paris and Bjorn Again join Santa, reindeer and thousands of revellers at the Hampstead Christmas Festival

PUBLISHED: 12:50 25 November 2013 | UPDATED: 13:57 26 November 2013

Hampstead Christmas Festival 24.11.13. Visiting Santa in his log cabin, Nancy (5), Nathan (9) and Leo (7).

Hampstead Christmas Festival 24.11.13. Visiting Santa in his log cabin, Nancy (5), Nathan (9) and Leo (7).

Archant

Hampstead was awash with festive spirit as the village’s annual Yuletide extravaganza drew tens of thousands of visitors yesterday.

Hampstead High Street was closed to traffic and transformed into a winter wonderland for the biggest-ever Hampstead Christmas Festival.

The organisers at the NW3 Business Association said more than 40,000 joined the party, seizing the chance to meet Santa, fill up on mince pies and mulled wine and enjoy performances from the likes of Abba tribute act Björn Again and Amy Winehouse’s dad Mitch Winehouse.

Alexandra Lavery, chair of the organising committee for four years, said: “It went really well, it was probably our best so far.

“At 2pm, the police thought we had about 30,000 people and it must have doubled. I’m not an expert in crowd size, but I would have thought we were way over 40,000 and they were mostly happy faces.

“It was as lovely Christmassy atmosphere and everybody was having a nice time.”

Attractions included a fairground, a treasure hunt, face painting, fire eaters, reindeer, birds of prey and dozens of stalls.

There was music 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.

The festivities kicked off at 12noon and finished with the Christmas lights switch-on at 5pm, with TV presenter Gok Wan and soul singer Mica Paris combining to do the honours.

The organisers said everything went “amazingly smoothly” and they have since been inundated with glowing feedback from residents – but there was one small matter for police to deal with on the day.

Two wanted suspects were spotted strolling through the crowd by an eagle-eyed officer, who promptly arrested them in connection with allegations of theft.

The organisers would like to thank sponsors including Savills, The William Pears Group, Knight Frank, Benham & Reeves, TK International, Marcus Parfitt and Hamptons.


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