INSTEAD of hosting one big lights switch-on ceremony, Witney is stuffing its Christmas stocking with several smaller family events.

There is something for everyone in the events line-up but children are at the heart of the celebrations.

Members of the West Oxfordshire Academy of Performing Arts (WOAPA) will get the Christmas festivities started at the Mayor’s Winter Warmer event at the Langdale Hall, in Langdale Gate, from 7pm to 9.30pm on Friday.

Featuring appearances by young performers aged from just four, and disabled members of the group, the evening of Christmas music will raise money for town mayor Jeanette Baker’s chosen charity Coppafeel, which promotes cancer awareness. Tickets priced £6 and £3 for children are on sale at the Town Hall.

And real reindeer will bring some animal magic when they accompany Santa to the Children’s Advent Fayre at the Langdale Hall on Sunday.

Homemade gifts are always that little bit more special and there will be a chance to make your own photo frame at the event, while fans of the Disney movie Frozen will know that Queen Elsa makes ice sculpting look easy and they will get the chance to try it for themselves.

Polly Inness, the events and communications officer at Witney Town Council, said spreading the festivities over several days worked well last year, when the idea of a big event was abandoned due to cost and concerns about overcrowding in the Market Square in previous years.

She said: “Although we’re not having a big switch-on event, we will still be getting shoppers in the festive mood with a number of smaller events. The Advent Fayre is a nice thing to drop into if you’re out doing a bit of Christmas shopping. It was really popular last year. There will be lots to do and it’s all free.”

The mayor’s annual Christmas carol concert will be held at St Mary’s Church, in Church Green, on Friday, December 19, at 7.30pm. All are welcome to attend the free event.

Cogges Manor Farm in Witney gets its Christmas events under way with two performances of the pantomime Aladdin on Sunday.

Children can meet Father Christmas in a cosy old-fashioned kitchen with an open fire, pick up a present, stir the Christmas pudding and make a wish at the Cogges Winter Fayre and Market on Sunday, December 7, from 10.30am to 4pm.

The Voicebox choir will sing Christmas songs and the Wheat Barn and Barley Barn will have more than 30 stalls selling handmade gifts, decorations and local produce.

Carols by Candlelight on Friday, December 12, will include readings, mulled wine and mince pies. For full details of all the events at the museum, see

In Carterton, residents have been busy over the past two weekends making lanterns for the town’s Winter Lights Procession and Christmas Street Fair on Friday, at workshops run by artist Emily Cooling.

The procession will set off at 5.15pm from Carterton Community College, in Upavon Way, arriving at the town hall, in Alvescot Road, for the Christmas lights switch-on ceremony at 6pm.

There will be live entertainment, charity stalls, stilt walkers and many town centre shops will be staying open late.

Maddy Radburn, of the Carterton Lions, one group supporting the event, said: “The Lions love being a part of it. So many people from the town come together to take part in the procession, or line the route to enjoy the wonderful spectacle. It really is a brilliant sight when the lanterns are all lit up and carried through the town centre.”

Carterton’s mayor, Lynn Little, added: “Our Christmas lights are brand new and we have a new market square so there will be lots more stalls and entertainment. We will also have VIPs turning on our Christmas lights.”

One of the VIPs will be Ted Little, the plucky teddy bear who flew around the world with RAF Brize Norton’s 99 Squadron earlier this year to raise money for the forces charity SSAFA.

Community choirs, roast chestnuts and plenty of cheer

CHRISTMAS is all about surprises and Woodstock is keeping some secrets about its Night of a Thousand Candles event.

Festivities begin on Saturday with a Christmas Market in St Mary Magdalene Church from 10am to 7pm and the Night of a Thousand Candles lights switch-on from 6pm.

The event in the Market Square is organised by business group Wake up to Woodstock. Chairman Chris Baylis would only reveal that a “special guest” will be pressing the button.

A 20ft Christmas tree has been donated by the Duke of Marlborough and there will be songs from Woodstock Primary School’s choir, rock renditions of Christmas classics, a short Christmas drama and mulled wine and hot chestnuts to keep people warm.

Many shops will be staying open late for the event and also on Friday evenings until Christmas. Mr Baylis said: “There’s something magical about Christmas in Woodstock and the Night of a Thousand Candles just gets bigger and better every year.”

Mayor Julian Cooper’s carol concert around the Christmas tree will take place on Saturday, December 13, at 5pm.

Shopkeepers in Chipping Norton are adding sparkle to their window displays in time for the town’s Christmas evening on Thursday, December 4, from 5.30pm until 8pm.

There will be a hog roast, reindeer hunt for children, charity stalls and live music from Chipping Norton Singers and Holy Trinity Primary School’s choir. Shops and cafes will be open late, with cheese and wine tastings.

Justin Alderslade, owner of Mash, a home accessories store in High Street, is organising the event. He said: “The lights will be switched on a few days before the Christmas evening and everybody’s busy getting their windows ready so the town will be looking really sparkly soon.”

Burford’s Chamber of Trade is organising a town-centre family Christmas event on Sunday starting from noon, culminating in the switch-on of the lights at 4.30pm.

Chamber member Gemma Finch said: “Father Christmas will be there and the children will be able to visit him in his grotto. There will be street entertainers, musicians and refreshments. There is also a shopping trail to win a luxury hamper.”

Santa Claus is coming to Eynsham with a little help from the Rotary Club of Eynsham, which is organising his tour of the village from December 8 to December 19, to raise money for local and Rotary charities.

You can get your Christmas shopping started at Eynsham Country Market, at St Leonard’s Church hall, in Thames Street, where seasonal goods will be available to buy or order with a free mince pie and coffee for customers at the market from 9 to 10.30am on Thursday, December 4.

Other highlights include an Advent Concert by Eynsham Choral Society at St Leonard’s Church at 7.30pm on Saturday, December 6, and an evening of beer and carols at the Swan Hotel on Tuesday, December 16.

Father Christmas will also be dropping in at Hilltop Garden Centre, in Ramsden, to help Oxford’s Helen & Douglas House hospice and Greenfingers, a charity which creates gardens for children’s hospices.

The grotto is free but donations to the charities are welcome. It will be open at weekends from Saturday, December 6, and on Monday, December 22, and Tuesday December 23, from 11am to 3pm. On Christmas Eve, Santa will be in residence from 11am to 1pm.

And the National Trust’s Chastleton House, near Chipping Norton, is getting ready for A Christmas Below Stairs, with the manor house decorated ready for the big day.

It wil be open on Saturday and Sunday and on the weekends of December 6-7 and December 13-14, from 11am-3pm each day. Admission is free for National Trust members, £5 for non-members and £2.50 for children. For full details, call 01608 674981.