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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Mid & East Antrim getting ready to ‘Bring Home the Spirit of Christmas’ with virtual light switch-on

In a year that is certainly like no other, the elves at Mid & East Antrim Borough Council have been working hard to ensure that the community can still participate in the festive spirit in a safe and responsible way, with the upcoming virtual Christmas lights switch-on.

The normal much-anticipated yearly event is always a highlight in the town’s calendar.

In Ballymena and the surrounding towns and villages, hundreds of people normally line the streets, shops are packed with eager shoppers listening to Christmas tunes while picking up gifts, and crowds gather for the big countdown.

The scene of ‘wee ones’ perched on the shoulders of their dads, and ‘big ones’ with smiles on faces and eyes glinting are all part of the magic of the Christmas spirit that we all love and know.

While this year has brought its challenges, the changes we face as a community at this most emotive time of the year, and the disruption to our dearly held routines and traditions, will be most noted in the season normally marked by coming together with hugs and kisses aplenty.

However, plans are afoot to make Christmas sparkle across Mid and East Antrim and to remind us all, of those things that are really important as a community as we continue to pull together in supporting each other as friends, families and local businesses.

MEABCouncil will launch the Christmas campaign ‘Rediscover the Spirit of Christmas’ from Monday 16 November for a duration of six weeks. This campaign will encourage everyone to shop local and support Mid and East Antrim’s shops and services.

The campaign will lead on from the current #SpiritofMEA campaign, launched through the four week circuit breaker. The campaign will place a large emphasis on the need for real community spirit this Christmas, whether that is supporting our local businesses and those in need, and to come together as a community to safely celebrate the joy of Christmas.

Council has secured additional funding from the Department for Communities (DfC) to extend the audience reach of this campaign with a £20,000 multi-channel advertising campaign planned across TV, radio ads and competitions, outdoor (billboards and digital signs), press and digital.

Speaking in November’s Council Meeting, Mayor Councillor Peter Johnston said:

“Members, it’s hard to believe that Christmas is only 8 weeks away and as we all know, it will be a very different Christmas.  I am encouraging all of our citizens to keep positive and to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. 

“As Mayor, I have never seen so much giving, within and throughout our communities, as we have in recent months through this pandemic.  I am encouraging everyone to shop local and to ‘Rediscover the Spirit of Christmas’, which is our new campaign to encourage people to shop locally and to reflect on how we can support each other through these difficult and challenging times. 

“I will be ensuring that the Christmas lights will be on in all of our towns and villages as normal and I am encouraging you to do your Christmas shopping in our towns and villages.  We will do all we can to make the experience as magical as it always is.  Over the coming weeks, I would encourage the public to follow the ‘Rediscover the Spirit of Christmas’ campaign from Council and support our local businesses.”

The dates have now been confirmed and further details are expected to be announced later this week.

A Council spokesperson commented:

The Christmas lights will be switched on virtually in Ballymena on Thursday 19 November, Larne Friday 20 November and Carrickfergus Saturday 21 November.

“We urge all those in our community to watch the magic from home on these dates. Check our website for more information!”

Three Christmas Markets will also be hosted in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus with a host of different sights, sounds and smells!


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