The spirit of the holiday season will soon illuminate the Western Isles as Christmas lights are turned on around the islands.
Stornoway will be one of the earliest to switch on its lights, with its main event on Tuesday November 28. Precise details of the lights this year remain under wraps, but Janet Paterson of Western Isles Lottery, which is organising the event, says ‘the parade will be different from every other year’.
As well as lights, the day of the switch on will include Santa’s Grotto, a craft market, a charity market, a marquee with live music, food and drink outlets, and late opening for several shops.
Events are scheduled to start at midday, with the switch on of the lights due from 6.30pm.
A funfair will also open on November 28, and run through to the end of December 2.
Ms Paterson commented: “The lottery team have again been busy this year to make sure Stornoway is lit up for a cheery Christmas period. We have received sponsorship from local companies and would like to sincerely thank Harland & Wolff, DFDS, Macmillan Engineering, Breedons, and Lewis Builders for their valuable support this year.”
In Tarbert, lights will be turned on on Friday December 1 between 7pm and 7.30pm. The town will also hold its annual Santa parade on Saturday December 16 in which children can receive a gift and come in costume. All are welcome.
A spokesperson for the Tarbert Recreation Group said: “I don’t want to give too much away because we have a lot of new lights this year. But I want to thank the volunteers, the coastguard, the fire service, and it couldn’t be done without the businesses who supported the fireworks this month which helps pay for this.”
Saturday December 2 will see the Christmas lights switched on in Leverburgh. Leverburgh RNLI and Leverhulme Community Hub will have a Santa’s grotto in the hub between 3pm and 5pm, with lights to be switched on at the Harris Community Co-op between 5.30pm and 6pm.
Mulled wine and mince pies will be on offer at the grotto - as well as something for the children - and donations can be given at the grotto to aid the RNLI and Leverhulme Hub. The organisers have asked that anyone wishing to attend notify them of interest via the event’s Facebook page in order to help with ensuring there is enough food and drink for all.
The event is sponsored by the Western Isles Lottery.
Catriona Maclennan, manager at Leverburgh RNLI, said: "We just want to thank all the individual groups that have come together to make this happen. It has kind of evolved over the years and we are all looking forward to a night in which the community comes together in advance of a busy Christmas season."
In South Lochs, the Made in Pairc Christmas craft fair will run on Friday November 24 and Saturday November 25 at the Ravenspoint Centre in Kershader. Doors are open 11am to 4pm, and entry is free.
North Lewis has a variety of events planned, with Spòrsnis kicking things off on November 18 with its Christmas bazaar, held 1pm to 5pm. The market will include handicrafts, art, Christmas decorations, and the children’s bauble grotto. Spòrsnis has asked for further baking donations for the market’s cafe.
Clan MacQuarrie in Borve will be holding its Christmas craft market on November 25, with Santa appearing as a very special guest. The market will run 10.30am to 3.30pm, and bookings with Santa should be made in advance via Rachel at 07967381929 and cost £2.50.
Taigh Dhonnchaidh will hold its Christmas concert on Friday December 8 at 7.30pm at Ness FC Social Club.
In South Uist, Storas Uibhist will host the Lochboisdale Christmas Market at the Mart on Sunday December 3, 2pm-5pm.
Although finishing touches are still being applied, the event promises the turning on of the Christmas lights, live music, and a Santa dash.
For more information on Christmas events across Uist, click here.
Barra and Vatersay are continuing their Christmas tradition of displaying trees, snowmen and other decorations made from crocheted squares. Again details are still be formalised, but two crocheted Christmas trees and a crocheted Christmas bauble will be erected in Castlebay, with a crocheted snowman in Eoligarry.
Events by date (list may be subject to change)
Saturday November 18: Spòrsnis Christmas bazaar
Saturday November 25: Clan MacQuarrie craft market
Tuesday November 28: Stornoway Christmas lights
Friday December 1: Tarbert Christmas lights
Saturday December 2: Leverburgh Christmas lights
Sunday December 3: Lochboisdale Christmas Market at the Mart
Thursday December 7: Cross Stores and Comunn Eachdraidh Nis late night shopping
Friday December 8: Taigh Dhonnchaidh Christmas concert
Saturday December 16: Comunn Eachdraidh Nis gift shop, Tarbert Santa parade