HENLEY’S main Christmas tree will be lit up tonight.
The 40ft Norwegian spruce, provided by Invesco Perpetual, was delivered to Market Place on Monday.
Click here to watch our video of the Christmas tree being put up
Town council workmen pared down the trunk using chainsaws and lowered it into a hole in Falaise Square with a crane.
The lights will be turned on at 7pm by Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak and Henley schoolgirls Jessica Cattanach, 10, and Darcy Dryden, eight, as part of the Christmas Festival.
The pair are the first joint winners of the Mayor’s annual Christmas card design competition, run in conjunction with the Henley Standard.
Jessica, a pupil at Badgemore Primary School, and Darcy, who goes to Rupert House School, both submitted pictures of their families amid a festive scene.
The runners-up were Stefania Bersella, nine, from Valley Road School, and Isabel Edgell, 10, who attends the Abbey School in Reading but lives in Henley. They win £30 of art supplies from Bagatelle Toys in Henley and a £30 voucher from the Bell Bookshop respectively.
Tonight’s celebrations will begin at 5pm with a parade of about 100 primary school pupils carrying “lanterns” through the town, led by Father Christmas.
The festival, which will run until 9pm, will be launched by a town crier.
There will be food and drink and a variety of market stalls. Most of the shops will open late.
Hart Street will be closed to traffic from 3pm to 10pm and Bell Street, Duke Street, Market Place and Friday Street, at the Duke Street and Reading Road end, will be closed from 4pm to 10pm.
There will be fairground rides, including a carousel, in Market Place and bungee rides.
After the tree is lit, there will be carol singing on the town hall steps with the Marlow Town Band and the Invesco Perpetual Choir.
Father Christmas will be at the King’s Arms Barn from 5.30pm to 9pm and staff from the Chocolate Café will serve hot chocolate in the courtyard. Aladdin and his Genie of the lamp, played by actors James Clifford and Rochelle Parry, will be promoting the Kenton Theatre panto, and children can take part in a treasure hunt to find the genie’s lamp.
The Mayor said: “This is a very exciting time of year for Henley and the tree looks absolutely lovely — it’s huge.
“We have already kicked off this year’s Living Advent Calendar and now that the tree is here we can really get excited about all the festivities coming up.
“There is the late-night shopping, the Santa Fun Run and all the other Living Advent Calendar performances so there is a lot to look forward to.”