2009's lights subtle, but spectacular

The lights fantastic will be bathing Biggleswade in Christmas spirit this evening at the grand switch on event.

Big Brother star Nikki Grahame will be turning on the lights at the ceremony, which will also feature songs from Biggleswade Amateur Theatrical Society's panto, a balloon launch and visit from Father Christmas.

Fundraiser Bill Simmons said the response to a fundraising drive had been fantastic, with enough money raised to buy new lights.

He said: "Hopefully people will notice the difference. It is subtle – there's no great big strobing Father Christmas, but there are five extra strings of lights this year including several more towards Stratton House."

He added that the switch-on day had reverted back to its more traditional Friday after feedback from the public, including comments posted on the Facebook networking site.

The chamber of trade's Graham Jones paid tribute to Horace Dilley, president of the Biggleswade Chamber of Trade and long-time supporter of the Christmas lights, who died last month.

He said: "Without the efforts of Horace Dilley and Horace Gale there wouldn't be any Christmas lights in Biggleswade.

"In last year's programme notes he emphasised the importance of the lights to Biggleswade and the community of Biggleswade. He remained involved with the lights right up to this year."

Graham said the bills for putting on the lights continued to go up, partly due to Biggleswade's ambitious display, which remained the envy of many towns.

He said: "In a number of other towns they have gone towards a smaller display of lights.

Here in Biggleswade we have become known for having strings of lights across the road and this is something we have decided to keep."

This meant additional features – such as tension wires, brackets and stress tests – that all come at a higher cost.

The fun starts at 6.45pm.