Arsenal star to turn on Harpenden Christmas lights

Jack Wilshere coaches the reception children

Jack Wilshere coaches the reception children - Credit: Archant

Arsenal and England footballer Jack Wilshere will join the Town Mayor and a young competition winner at the turning on of the Harpenden Christmas lights this weekend.

Sunday’s festivities will find the midfielder, who lives in the town, on stage with Mayor Cllr Mary Maynard and cast members from this year’s pantomime at Harpenden Public Halls.

Eight-year-old Katharine Pike, who won the Christmas poster competition, will pull the official lever at 5pm.

Jack is expected to play in the Arsenal game against Manchester United on Saturday - but he has agreed to step up against the winner of a Harpenden Colts ‘beat the keeper’ event the following day.

The Colts are charging £1 to ‘beat the keeper’ and everyone who takes part will be entered into a draw with the chance of saving a penalty from Jack. Proceeds will go to the Mayor’s charity.

Cllr Maynard commented: “Jack Wilshere has been fantastic to give his time. He’s such a nice guy. You can buy tickets to try to win the chance to stop him scoring. It’s supposed to be for kids but quite a few adults are going to try too.”

She said that Harpenden was the place to be at the weekend and Sunday’s Christmas carnival was the big event of the year.

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“All the shops will be open and more than 100 stalls will be selling everything you need for Christmas.

“The stage will have a wide array of musical talent and the procession is back with old favourites - and some surprising new talent. It’s a party town on that day!

Nick Jr’s Steve Leeds (from Go!Go!Go!) is going to host a 10-minute sing-along on the stage in Church Green before the big switch on. He is due to play the Prince in Snow White at Harpenden Public Halls, next month.

The Celebration Cruises Christmas Carnival Procession, led by Father Christmas, will features majorettes, a brass band and local brownies and cadets making their way down the High Street.

Other highlights will include a small fairground, bouncy castle and the monthly Farmer’s Market.

The Mayor went on: “The volunteers have largely organised this event - everything from stage management, to managing the football event.

“I take my Christmas hat off to all the volunteers, who have spent loads of time on making it really special.

“There are just two members in the office co-ordinating everything too and they are just absolutely fantastic.”

She added that she would be “breaking with tradition”, sporting a sparkly jumper adorned with a ‘Christmas tree’, under her mayoral chains and could be persuaded to don a Santa hat!

The Christmas Carnival, which has attracted up to 10,000 visitors in previous years, runs from noon until 6pm.