ANDOVER'S festive preparations are due to go live in two weeks' time when the town's own Olympic star Kate Howey throws the switch to turn on the Christmas lights.

And this year the event will have an added sparkle thanks to a firework display which will immediately follow the lights switch-on.

The fireworks will be launched from the Chantry Centre service area and will cascade from behind the Guildhall.

The switch-on ceremony will again be part of an evening of fun which will include Santa's parade through Bridge Street and into the newly-paved High Street.

While the borough council pays for the lights, the cost of maintaining them, erecting them and dismantling them as well as paying for the extensive entertainment programme is down to the Christmas Lights and Festival Association, an independent group of volunteers from across the community who organise and raise funds for the entire event.

Businesses are again being urged to play their part by helping to cover the £10,000 overall cost. A number have already made donations, with the Stannah Group of Companies making a significant contribution this year.

Association chairman Tony Hope said: "We are tasked with raising enough money to provide a first class show on the evening that has to be funded locally, and we still need to raise several thousand pounds to cover the costs of what is one of the best supported and most enjoyable family events in the town's calendar.

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