IT COULD be all too easy to take them for granted – because year after year, there they are sprinkling Christmas magic all over town.

Stratford’s festive display goes beyond impressive – recognised as one of the very best in the whole of the UK, and pulling some serious Christmas shopping power.

While everyone who lives in or visits Stratford can’t fail to appreciate them, what many people don’t appreciate is that each year our wonderful illuminations are wholly thanks to a team of volunteers and their valiant efforts to raise the funds necessary to keep the streets burning bright.

The lights – a fixture attracting tourists from all over Britain for the past 30 years – have been managed by The Stratford-upon-Avon Christmas Lights Company Ltd since 2001, an independent company of non-fee charging volunteers who work solely for the town and its people and are responsible for all fundraising, marketing, engineering and planning.

The cost of the display is funded by grants and donations covering erection, removal, power, insurance, storage, maintenance and replacements.

Stratford Town Trust is a proud supporter – awarding £307,000 to the Christmas Lights Company over the past 10 years.

“The cost of this year’s display is £67,000 and we are totally reliant upon the very generous grants from the Town Trust, Town Council, and Stratforward, for without them the lights would not exist,” Mick Love, Chairman of the Christmas Lights Company, said.

“Although these grants cover the majority of the costs, there is a shortfall to which, each year, we strive to encourage the town’s business sector to contribute and we are eternally grateful for the generous donations made by members of the public.”

This year around 25 per cent of Stratford’s businesses are contributing to the costs – recognising the lights as an intrinsic part of the Stratford-upon-Avon Christmas Festival.

“They enhance the town’s late night shopping events and Christmas markets, making the town a magical place to be and making a major contribution to the town’s economy which benefits both businesses and townspeople alike,” Mick added.

“And we always appreciate that the support we are lucky to receive from the Town Trust, Town Council and Stratforward is discretionary – it is not guaranteed every year, so we really can’t stress how important the support of our town, its businesses and its residents is.”

This year’s Christmas Lights Switch-on is happening on Thursday November 24th, from 4pm outside Stratford Town Hall. The crowds will be entertained by the pupils of Thomas Jolyffe School, singing carols accompanied by the KES brass section. There will also be a free grotto, with Santa himself set to make an appearance. Late-night shopping will be happening across town, and at Stratford’s festive market.

For more information on the Christmas Lights and getting involved or making a donation, go to: www.stratforduponavonchristmaslights.co.uk or call 07759 865513.