Fox Valley Christmas lights Stocksbridge: Festive fun and smiles as happy families share in lights switch-on
The Star headed to the Fox Valley Christmas lights switch on and found a moving festive evening
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So it came as no surprise to me to find Fox Valley shopping centre packed to the rafters when I popped in to soak up the festive atmosphere of the huge shopping centre's big Christmas lights switch-on.
As I strolled into the main entrance, at about 5pm ahead of the 6pm switch-on, cars were queuing to get in, although the queue was not long. Attendants in high vis were organising things to make getting in by car straightforward.
Strolling around the centre, there were two areas of excitement. The first was the area around a bandstand, where a group of youngsters were performing dance routines to festive songs to an appreciative audience. It turned out to be the popular Stocksbridge group, Branching Out Dancing.
Further along was an area full of stalls and fairground rides. Both sections were packed, with the winter early evening darkness broken by countless glowing toys, a sign that one of the stalls at least was doing a roaring trade.
Many of those enjoying the atmosphere had donned festive gear. I spotted one youngster in a fine pair of antlers!
Speaking to those enjoying the evening's entertainment, people had come from all over the north of Sheffield and Barnsley.
Linzi Marriott had come in a group from Parson Cross. She was making the most of the evening, as her baby was enjoying his first Christmas. She said it was a nice atmosphere.
She said: "I like the Christmas market. down at the bottom, and just making that Christmas feeling. I think that's what a lot of people need sometimes, isn't it? It's Luca's first Christmas, so we thought we'd bring him."
Her friend Jade Wilson added: "We're loving it. The music, the live stage, everyone getting together and enjoying themselves."
Mitch Hart, who has only recently moved to Stocksbridge was enjoying the evening. He said it didn't feel like Christmas yet, but it didn't feel far off.
One dad told us he was enjoying the hustle and bustle. "It's a lovely family event." His daughters were in no doubt what the highlight of the evening was. "Candy floss," they shouted in unison, as they tucked into big helpings of the colourful sweet treat, which had been sculpted into animal shapes.
One tiny youngster was trying his hand at a fairground strength test - hit the spike with a hammer to ring a bell. With a little help from a smiling attendant, the bell rang.
As 6pm neared, the crowds around the bandstand grew. Many youngsters found a good view on their parents shoulders, as the compere counted down from 10 - before the lights switched on for the first time, to the sound of whoops and cheers.
I headed off with a smile on my face. You can put a crowd together, bring out the music and games, but the Christmas spirit in Stocksbridge for the switch on could not fail to bring cheer to even the most cynical heart.