This year Alton’s Christmas lights will be switched on by the town's MasterChef 2023 winner Chariya Khattiyot at the Assembly Rooms on November 24 at 5pm.

Chariya will be joined by the cast from Pumpkin Pantos' Christmas pantomime, which this year is Beauty and the Beast.

Everyone is invited to enjoy a lively switch-on with music and festivities to keep the whole family entertained.

From 3pm to 7pm younger children will be able to visit Father Christmas and his elf in his grotto and receive a free gift, post their Christmas wish list in a magical letter box which the elves will sort at the North Pole, have their photo taken with an enchanting Ice Queen and enjoy funfair rides from John Searle Family Funfairs.

Visitors to the event will be spoilt for choice, with a vast selection of food and drink stalls. For those who are shopping or browsing, there will be plenty of commercial and charity stalls to visit along High Street and inside the Assembly Rooms.

During the afternoon and evening visitors will be entertained with live performances at two venues.

Outside the Assembly Rooms will be Tilly Lukeman (3.30pm to 4.30pm), Pumpkin Pantos and the lights switch-on (4.30pm to 5pm), Alton Rock Choir (5pm to 5.45pm) and the Kings Pond Shanty Men (6pm to 6.45pm). Inside the Assembly Rooms will be the Luminosa choir (5pm to 5.30pm).

Outside The Swan will be the Alton Concert Band (5pm to 5.30pm) and Cactus Brass (6pm to 7pm).

This year Alton Town Council has bought two artificial Christmas trees – one for the Assembly Rooms, sponsored by Rod Gaskins Ltd, and the other for Market Square, sponsored by P J Grace and Sons.

The decision to buy the trees was welcomed by town mayor Cllr Ben Hamlin. There will also be an additional feature on the Assembly Rooms Lawn which will provide a festive family photo opportunity.

Cllr Hamlin said: "I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone the very best for Christmas, and a prosperous new year. Thanks to everyone who has made this celebration possible, and a special thanks to our sponsors."

The High Street lamp posts will again shine bright with the return of the Christmas lights, designed by the local community, alongside the traditionally themed colourful lamp post motifs along High Street and icicle lighting in Market Square, and at the Curtis Museum, Inwood Court and the Assembly Rooms in High Street.

Alton Town Council would like to thank this year’s Christmas sponsors, Rod Gaskins Ltd, P J Grace and Sons, HSDC Alton College and bronze Christmas sponsor Alton School, whose generosity has contributed towards funding the Christmas Lights Switch-On event as well as the Christmas lights themselves.

All East Hampshire District Council pay and display car parks will be free after 3pm on November 24. Alton Town Council would like to thank East Hampshire District Council for providing free parking during the Christmas Lights Switch-On and Market.

Rod Gaskins said: “We are delighted to be supporting Alton Town Council’s festivities through the town and would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.”

P J Grace and Sons said: “P J Grace and Sons are pleased to be able to sponsor the Christmas tree again this year. We wish everyone a lovely Christmas and a very happy new year. ”

HSDC Alton College principal and chief executive Mike Gaston said: “It is fantastic to be part of the Alton Christmas lights switch-on this year as a sponsor. We are delighted to support this event as it is an excellent way to bring the local community together.”

Alton School headmaster Andrew Reeve said: "It is an honour for Alton School to sponsor the Alton town Christmas lights switch-on, fostering a sense of community and festive cheer. We are proud to contribute to the joy of the holiday season in our town. My very best wishes to everyone for a wonderful Christmas."

After the success of last year’s local business competition, Alton Town Council is once again inviting local businesses to share the Christmas spirit around the town with a best dressed Christmas window competition, with local businesses and customers being encouraged to submit their own images of local shop windows – you can also self-nominate as a business owner.

If you would like to enter your business or nominate a business, please email up to two landscape high-resolution digital photographs of the shop window, including the business details, by December 3 to [email protected]

A poll will be set up on the Alton Town Council website and social media for people to vote for their favourite. The people’s choice online vote will start on December 4 and will finish on December 17.

Keep an eye out for the printed Altonian, which is being delivered by Royal Mail, for the opportunity to win a family pantomime ticket for Beauty and the Beast, donated by Pumpkin Pantos, or Robin Hood, donated by Holybourne Theatre.