A MUCH expanded celebration for the switch-on of Ledbury's Christmas Lights should draw hundreds to the town centre, this year.

The crowds should enjoy a festive time-travelling experience, from the Middle Ages to Victorian England.

New Street will be closed to traffic to become "Dickensian New Street", with attractions including a hot chestnut stall, Morris dancing, street performers, a hog roast and even a fortune teller.

And Father Christmas will leave his grotto in the town council offices to greet young and old alike in New Street, from 6pm.

Local traders are instrumental in organising this part of the celebration.

Cllr Martin Eager, chairman of the town's Christmas Lights Committee said: "Dickensian New Street should be quite a good attraction. This has got to be a great boost for the Christmas Lights switch-on in Ledbury."

Cllr Eager said that a reenactment battle by the Bristol Boars medieval group, in the Walled Garden, should be "something different", despite concerns from some quarters that the display may not be suitable as a family event for this time of year.

One member of the public has contacted the town council by letter, asking if the realistic clash by knights in armour would be appropriate as entertainment for children at Christmas.

Raising this point at last week's full town council meeting in the Market House, Cllr Liz Harvey asked if it would be "a Christmassy battle."

But members of the Christmas Lights working party are agreed that the presence of the knights, who will also be walking around town in full armour during the afternoon, engaging with local people, will "provide extra interest on the day."

Cllr Eager revealed that the Bristol Boars will cost the town council over £700 for their attendance; but he added: "I hope it will be good value for money. We are very keen to have them, although I do have to wonder how Christmassy it is."

Father Christmas will arrive, as usual, at 1pm, on Saturday November 26, and he will start dishing out presents in his grotto, the pannelled room in the Ledbury Town Council offices, from 1.30pm.

The switch-on, involving Ledbury's mayor and the Carnival princesses, will take place at 5.30pm.