On Saturday 3rd October, inSwindon BID, the body charged with improving and promoting Swindon town centre, launched their new festive campaign, Swindon’s Illumina, as they hosted their first virtual Christmas Light Switch-On.
The new campaign aims to drive footfall safely into the town centre in support of all businesses through visual, virtual and digital experiences across the festive season.
This year’s virtual event was dedicated to the amazing work of Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, emergency services and all keyworkers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and featured an exclusive projection, light and fire show for the switch-on moment, as the Christmas lights illuminated the town centre.
inSwindon BID Manager, Anita Bellinger said, “We are thrilled with the support and reaction from the local community. We had people tuning in across Swindon and even from Oxford and as far as Bournemouth, and we know that the virtual event will continue to reach even more people in the lead up to Christmas, which is a wonderful way to raise awareness of our town centre across the festive period.”
The online event was live streamed via Facebook and featured a variety of pre-recorded performances from local acts including The Tribe, Phoebe Maddison, Swindon Dance, Billy & Louie, PQA Swindon, Wilkes Academy, Rock Choir North Wiltshire and Jenny Bracey, as well as Josie Ellis on aerial hoop.
BBC Radio Wiltshire's Ben Prater and Damian Pickett from Totally Crazy hosted the free show and kept viewers entertained throughout. Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Fayth Ifil and singer, stage star, TV personality and Principle of Swindon’s Wilkes Academy, Jonathan Wilkes, also made an appearance sharing their special messages before introducing their favourite acts.
Social media comments and support came flooding in across the show, which reached over 75,000 within 24hrs and has received over 24,000 views so far via Facebook.
Desley Ayres commented, “Absolutely brilliant. Watched from just outside Banbury Oxfordshire.”
Christopher Passmore added, “Yes, it’s only October! But it gives us all something to smile about. Absolutely love Christmas. Well done to all involved.”
Anita Bellinger said, “We realise that for some, this may feel very early, but we’re also conscious that the local community may be stretched financially this year, so we hope that businesses and town centre visitors can benefit from us bringing forward the official switch on and encouraging people to spread their spending over a longer period of time, whilst bringing in sales sooner for the businesses. And more importantly, they can avoid overcrowding and stay safe by allowing shops to maintain social distancing.”
Viewers were also encouraged to get involved and interact with the online event by donning their Christmas jumpers, decorations and all for a chance to WIN a range of £50 and £100 vouchers. Plus, children at home had the chance to WIN £50 to spend at The Entertainer, by answering a special question during the show and posting the answers below in the live stream with their parents.
Toni Brack commented, “Thank you. Have two happy grandchildren, they are loving this, they loved Santa and the Elf!”
As the switch on moment arrived, inSwindon BID shared a heartfelt video which featured five nominated NHS Heroes from the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and special guests including Mayor of Swindon, Cllr Gary Perkins and BID Manager Anita Bellinger as well as Santa and Buddy the Elf.
The video included a projection and lighting show and saw a silhouetted family looking over the Swindon skyline from the top of Liddington Hill, just before the ‘Swindon’s Illumina’ star swooshes around the David John Murray building, lighting up the town to reveal a selection of messages dedicated to the NHS, emergency services, keyworkers and the community before more bubbles of silhouettes appear.
The Christmas lights were captured through film as they glistened and twinkled across the town centre in over twelve locations, whilst the Fandango’s provided a fire show in Havelock Square underneath Isambard Brunel.
The town centre Christmas lights will feature until 6th January 2021 as part of Swindon’s Illumina and visitors will also be able to enjoy a ‘Luminary Business Window Trail’, which will see a variety of stars illuminate windows across the town centre as part of the visual campaign.
Plus a ‘Virtual Christmas Market’ will also take place via the BID’s social media channels to promote businesses across the town centre to visitors looking for their all-important gifts and seasonal shopping, as well as a selection of competitions.
For all the latest information across Swindon’s Illumina visit swindontowncentre.co.uk or social media channels, @inSwindon.