Christmas Extravaganza 2015

The Christmas Extravaganza,organised by Abingdon on Thames Chamber of Commerce, took place in Abingdon today. There were stalls all along Bath Street, and entertainment on the Market Place.
The day really got going with the Parade. It included, among other community groups, the 11th Abingdon Rainbows,
and Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers.
The parade was led by the Oxford Calidonian Pipes & Drums, and included Paddington Bear,
and Father Christmas, who spent the rest of the day meeting children.
I did hear that there had been snow among the fine rain at the end of the parade, but later saw a snow machine at Breckon and Breckon, so it could have been that.
Elsewhere in Abingdon town centre, there was a Fairtrade and Craft Fair in the warmth of St Ethelwolds house; and entertainment and a jumble sale at St Nicolas Church.
At the end of the afternoon the crowds gathered in the Market Place, despite the rain, to listen to the Community Choir then watch fire jugglers.
The Christmas Lights were turned on at 5:30pm, followed by some amazing fireworks.
P.S. Thanks to Steve for sending me the picture of one of the entertainers.

29 thoughts on “Christmas Extravaganza 2015

  1. Sasha

    The fireworks were excellent. I don’t know if it’s possible for future events but could the stage be a little higher?
    It was disappointing not being able to see the entertainment, especially for the children.

  2. Kelly Simpson

    It was a brilliant day, well organised and entertaining. We went down at midday and stayed until the end. Congratulations to the Chamber and everyone else involved in it.
    I do agree that it was hard for some children to see, though this was mostly due to selfish adults standing up when they actually had a seat!

  3. Lyle Lanley

    Excellent fireworks, well a good display from the far side of Abingdon, as we couldnt make it in..

    Anyone know what the ‘exciting announcement’ was ?

    from the herald website..
    ‘Paul Townsend, a member of the chamber which is organising the extravaganza, said an exciting announcement would be made after the fireworks. ‘

  4. Rachel

    a great event. wonderful fireworks. I wouldn’t have minded so much about not being able to see the stage if we could only have heard what was being said. better pa system needed

  5. Captainkaos2

    Ok, got my tin hat on so here goes ! While I have the utmost of respect for those who give up their time to organise this annual may I very respectfully suggest that making this an all day event is not such a good idea ! Purely from my family s perspective we get there around 11.30am, have a wander around, wait for the “procession” then? then, wander around again and go home leaving us with not much appetite to return later in the day for the switch on etc, for us returning to an evening event. as the likes of all our neighbouring towns do would be a much better option, begin around 6,00pm with either a bigger procession or no procession at all, instead just the arrival of Santa and have the switch-on around 7.00pm, fireworks at 8.00pm, quite simply there isn’t enough on offer to warrant a full day event, condense it to an evening job ?

  6. Kelly Simpson

    Captainkaos2 Abingdon used to have an evening event, but it reached the point that few people went. After a day’s work it’s hard to go out again on a cold night. It was too late for many young children. And eventually many shops stopped opening – they were having to pay overtime to their staff for very little revenue. On a Saturday their staff are there anyway. It’s also not worthwhile for charities to set up for only a couple of hours in the dark.
    We went at midday, ate in a local independent café (business for them), browsed and spent money on the stalls in Bath Street (business for small businesses and charities) and did Christmas shopping in the main shops. My children watched the shows, petted the donkeys and did drawing in the community shop, while we all watched the morris men and other entertainers in the market place. All culminating in the switching on of the lights and super fireworks. Followed by a takeaway from another local eatery.
    We actually wished we’d gone earlier as we missed the parade.
    My hat goes off to those who spend months planning this and to everyone, organisers and stall holders, who were there at silly o’clock in the morning and battled with the elements all day.
    Please keep it as a Saturday event.

  7. Pete

    We loved the event. As fairly new residents of Abingdon it really introduced the town to us, browsing and looking at shops we never really knew were there. The children loved the Paddington sandwiches competition, which led us to look at new places to which we will return, and filled the couple of hours we had between the parade and all the other activities and the climax in the market place in the early evening.

    Certainly the best Christmas shopping event we’ve been to in many years and places and obviously well organised. One request for next year – please organise warmer weather?!!

  8. Captainkaos2

    Kelly glad you had a good time, but you missed the “parade” ? It began at 12.10? Even so there isn’t enough to g keep me and my family entertained for almost six hours! Which is no doubt why all the other towns have evening events? Not only that it would be easier to close High St in the evening too adding greatly to the event, as for the shop keepers? Well it’s not much to ask of them to open late for just one night a year, few open much before 9.30 am anyway ! They ought to take a leaf out of some of our new foreign owned business !

  9. Lyle Lanley


    what was the ‘exciting announcement’ ?

    from the herald website..
    ‘Paul Townsend, a member of the chamber which is organising the extravaganza, said an exciting announcement would be made after the fireworks. ‘

  10. Kelly Simpson

    The reason we (just) missed the parade was because we struggled to park. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that there is free parking all day on Extravaganza day, but it does mean many cars are there all day, with less people returning. Note to self – go earlier next year.

  11. Iain

    Well done to the organisers – my family and i enjoyed it – ii hope the traders got decent footfall – there certainly seemed to be lots of people about

  12. newcomer

    There was a parade of all-terrain baby buggies in The Nag’s at circa 4:30/5:00 pm with an accompanying cabaret of nouveau-daddies sashaying around the ground-floor bar with babes in arms. It was like the Guardian colour supplement come to life. It wasn’t just that I’ve never felt so ashamed to be a man … it was just so … wimpy and … well … ‘Continental’.

    It’s a PUB, fellas … not a creche. Get a grip.

  13. Mr Smith

    Very good event indeed. Must have been good for Abingdon’s traders: the wife spent more than planned and got me to do likewise when dragged along to watch the fireworks.
    p.s. Please can all day free parking on Saturdays be made a regular thing.

  14. Abingdon Chamber

    So we kept you waiting until after our firework display to give you the big news. S Club Party featuring Tina Barrett, Jo O Meara & Bradley Mcintosh formally of S Club 7 will be joining us in 2016. They will perform a selection of hits and then switch on our Christmas lights. ONE lucky person can join them on stage to switch the lights on. For your chance to win, enter the competition here you can also find us on Facebook & Twitter abingdonxmas

  15. Neil Fawcett

    Unfortunately I was working away but my family certainly enjoyed the day.

    Well done to all involved.

    newcomer – personally I’m very happy to be a father in an era when I get a fair share of spending my time with my kids and that many pubs welcome families.

  16. G

    Having the lights switch on at 5.30 pm, and fireworks straight away afterwards, is just right! In previous years we had to miss the fireworks as too late for small children.

    If folk feel that length of time from parade to switch on is too long then move parade a little later.

    I echo the comments re the PA and a higher stage; couldn’t see the fire juggler – too many people in the way!

  17. daniel

    I think it was great – for the bit I saw; but I wonder if it is now “a big enough event”, that it warrants getting it done properly/professionally?

    There’s a veritable clamour to spend money on consultants (professionals even) usually…perhaps this could be one occasion where it might, actually, be money well spent?

  18. Blanky


    Few people went to the evening Extravaganza? Sure you’re talking about Abingdon? I came to them all and remember people stepping over my child in her pushchair and frightening her, myself getting crushed, I lost my child once (same child, but older) and remember Father Christmas being mobbed (my son being one of the mobbers). I began to fear for the safety of my children with so many people there.

    Sasha – The performance stage can’t be any higher. It would be unsafe for performers being on there. Believe me ….. you try being on there with the drop looming in front of you. Could easily fall off.

    Yes warmer weather could be ordered next time. Was very, very cold.

    Great snow machine!

  19. Ali.

    I like it being an all day event & being on a Saturday but I think the parade could be later in the day, perhaps just before it goes dark. Then there wouldn’t be such a big gap if the weather is bad. I also like the idea of the High Street being shut for longer & having stalls there. I thought the entertainment especially the community choir were fantastic. The fireworks were great! Anyway it was nice to see people out & town busy so well done to the organisers.

  20. Kelly Simpson

    It would be great to have stalls in High Street and the precinct as well as Bath Street so the whole town centre was joined and felt part of the event.
    But I understand it costs a fortune to close High Street for the day, with incredible red tape (the fair is an exception due to its charter).
    Also, despite numerous requests from the organisers, the owners of the precinct refuse to allow stalls there.
    I didn’t feel there was big gap – there was entertainment all afternoon in the market place and elsewhere. If it was an act that didn’t appeal, then visit the shops, cafes and stallholders.
    Friends of mine had a charity stall and raised over £400, which was great and were very impressed by the organisation. Professionals would cost a lot of money and would not be so committed and passionate as the current organisers.

  21. Daniel

    Passion and commitment are wonderful things….”fantastic events” are also…er, …wonderful things too. But these aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Why would you be agaisnt making a good event even better?

  22. Kelly Simpson

    Of course I wouldn’t if it could be guaranteed. We all know how ‘good’ (not) consultants have been in Abingdon recently. Also depends on the cost, which is borne by you and me.

  23. Daniel

    I conceed that point Kelly. We can, I think, all agree that consultants are either useless or a waste of money…and, as we can evidence in many if not most of Abingdon, they are both. They are indeed a very long way from “committed and passionate”…. Especially as they get paid the same no matter.

    Perhaps a ‘decision maker’ could reply on here as to why we (you and I) have to keep paying for them?

    And, as, in all seriousness, I think we know, what I really would like to know is what guarantees do those consultants offer? What comeback is there if they are wrong? On what criteria do they get paid by me? How do we measure their “success”? How often has the same consultant been used? And based on what previous experience?

    I asked similar questions to a Councillor recently. You know what the reply was….? ” Submit an FOI request”. If you ever wondered what we, the great unwashed, what contempt we are held in…that about sums it up.

    (Thank goodness no ones making REALLY big decisions in our name, eh…)

    You know. .I’ve been asking these fuzzy questions ‘out here’ for a while…and no one has any answers. And I know there may be better people than mere councillors to answer such questions…but to whom they should be directed, I just don’t know (conveniently, perhaps…).

    Who knows who can answer some questions about vouncil use of consultants? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

  24. Hester

    Some of the comments on here imply that the Extravaganza is run by the Town Council – that isn’t the case. It is actually run by the Chamber of Commerce who are all volunteers, taking time out from their “day jobs”. The planning takes a full year – they are probably working on next year’s already! They do of course get some financial support – and some practical support – from the Town and District Councils, but a lot of the financial support (most visibly for the fireworks and Paddington Bear!) comes from local businesses.

    So let’s not mix up long-term gripes about the
    Council with constructive suggestions about improvements to the Extravaganza – I am sure the Chamber would welcome them. PS presumably the BID will be involved next year?


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