THE marmots are back in town as Alton’s Christmas lights are turned on for the first of the festive celebrations.
Marmite and Méribel will be on the Assembly Rooms lawn for A Marmot Family Christmas tomorrow from 5pm to 7pm.
Alton’s furry marmots have become cult creatures in the town, inspiring residents to make baubles and coasters, write books about them and adopt them as the Alton FC mascot.
Tomorrow’s evening of festive fun will feature a Christmas land train, crafts, tombolas, entertainment, a funfair and a chance to meet Father Christmas.
Children are very welcome to take along their Christmas wish list and post it in the Christmas post box.
To add to the atmosphere, and so they can benefit from the visitors attracted to the event, Alton Town Council has encouraged local businesses to stay open for late-night shopping.
The Marmot Family Christmas has replaced the planned Christmas lights switch-on, which was cancelled because of fears of spreading Covid-19 through lots of people being crowded into a small space for the duration of the event.
A town council spokesperson said: “To try to strike a balance between caution and welcoming people into Alton to celebrate Christmas, we hope this alternative – a family-friendly event spread out across the whole of the High Street and Market Square – allows plenty of space for
“And as it is held over two hours, it gives visitors the opportunity to pop in at their convenience.”
There will be free parking across all East Hampshire District Council pay-and-display car parks for the event.
The town council is organising a series of small Christmas markets in Market Square every Saturday from November 20 until December 11, from 10am to 2pm.
Each week there will be a different selection of stalls from local crafters, artists, traders, community groups and charities, with a different local choir or band providing live festive entertainment each time.
The town council spokesperson added: “Shoppers have the perfect excuse to visit Alton each week, and the Christmas lights along the High Street and the Christmas tree in Market Square will be illuminated throughout the Christmas