THIS year’s Late Night Shopping event has been hailed a success, after hundreds of people turned out to enjoy stalls, live music and entertainment on Ashbourne’s official night of Christmas celebration.
Shops stayed open until around 9pm and the town council organised road closures to make room for the influx of festive residents and visitors, all keen to bag a bargain and enjoy the atmosphere.
The event began with the traditional lantern procession, arranged by Ashbourne Churches, and involving around 200 people - nearly half carrying lanterns that had been made in workshops in the run up to the event.
Making their way through the streets to the town hall, dozens of people had gathered there to join Ashbourne Singers in carols and Young Ashbourne Singers in a brief Nativity show.
Mild weather made for a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere and helped the stall-holders, who were selling items, raising funds and promoting their causes from stalls dotted around the town.
Entertainment included music by Ashbourne Town Band, a pipe organ, violinists and the Bill Bailey Jazz Band - which also led the lantern procession.
Hot food was served in Victoria Square by Ashbourne Lions and market traders reported a good evening.
Chairman of the town council’s environment committee, Sue Bull, said: “I just think it’s been a general night of merriment and enjoyment for everyone who came.
“There were a lot of people about this year, the shops were staying open late and some of the market traders, who had never been to Ashbourne, say they have had a good night and would come again.
“All the streets and everywhere you looked in the town seemed to be thronging.”