The Festival of Lights started off in 1962 when Jos Kerr (then Deputy Electrical Engineer) was given the sum of R 50 by the then Somerset West Mayor Archie Thom.
He was instructed by the Mayor to light up the town. Mr Kerr retired in 1984 but continued to devote his attention to the Xmas lights until his death in 1996. His family still annually took part in the parade.
From the small and humble beginnings it has progressed each year until it has reached the stage of being the most beautiful Xmas lights display in South Africa.
December 2004 was the 13th Helderberg Lights Festival (as it was then named).
The annual Festival of Lights is regarded as a highlight on the festival calender and draws thousands of visitors every year to Somerset West.
In 2003 a December street festival was written into the Municipal Bylaws and it was agreed that there will be two separate trading periods – the first will coincide with the switching-on of the Xmas lights (Somerset West Festival of Lights) and last for four (4) evenings, and the second period will be from after 16 December until 23 December (known as the Strawberry Festival).
The Festival of Lights has always been presented by members of local community organisations (Lions and Rotary clubs) and all the revenue earned was ploughed back into community projects.
In the past, switching-on ceremonies were also conducted in Macassar, Lwandle, Strand, Gordon’s Bay and Sir Lowry’s Pass. In 2007 the community organisations decided to register a Non-Profit Organisation, the Festival Promotions Association (FPA).
In 2013 a tender was published by the City of Cape Town for the switching-on of the Xmas lights event and the Festival Promotions Association (FPA) unfortunately lost it to a private company that took all revenue out of the area.
The FPA committee is now in 2014 made up of members of Somerset West Rotary Club, Lions Gordon’s Bay, Lions Somerset West and Lion Strand clubs, Henry Laubscher is a co-opted member, Lesley Byron is the volunteer Secretary and JJ Nel is the Chairperson. Anne-Marie (Storm) Buys is the Event Organiser. The FPA will try to revive the Somerset West Festival of Lights to its former glory and build it up to what it used to be known as – spectacular and four evenings to be spent with family and friends and also doing your Xmas shopping early.
In 2014 the FPA is expecting approximately 2 000 visitors every evening with an Opening Parade on Wednesday evening 3 December 2014 and the official switching-on of the Xmas lights and singing of Xmas carols.
In line with the City of Cape Town’s Events Office, a registered security company will look after safety and security and there will also be roaming marshalls to assist them. The Traffic Metro Police and SAPS Somerset West will also be roaming the event during the four evenings.
The 22nd Somerset West Festival of Lights event will take place from Wednesday 3 December to Saturday 6 December 2014, every evening from 19.00 to 22.30 in Main Road (between Church Street/Oudehuis Street and Oak Street) and Victoria Street (between Main Road and Andries Pretorius Street), Somerset West.
Traffic officials will close Main Road at Oak Street and Church Street, and Victoria Street at Andries Pretorius Street from 18.30 until 23.00 every evening.
Entrance to the event venue will only be on foot.
Vendors will set up their stalls between 18.30 and 19.00 and dismantle between 22.30 and 23.00 every evening and Vendor parking will be at the Library building between Libri Lane and Andries Pretorius Street and between Oak Street and Victoria Street. Disabled parking will be available in Victoria Street only to vehicles displaying a valid disabled parking permit.
There will be a medical point, security point, doggie water point, information kiosk, lost/found kiosk in Victoria Street just off Main Road. People wanting to bring their dogs must please be reminded to bring along a poop scoop. Temporary ablution facilities will be erected at the Library in Libri Lane and security guards will guard during daytime to prevent damage and vandalism.
The Vendors will provide food to eat on the spot or to take home and the public will be able to do their Xmas shopping from all the local crafters/artists while enjoying a lazy and relaxed evening.\
All NGO’s/NPO’s are invited to have a stall at the Festival at a special low rate. Vendors can apply for stalls at only R 800 for four evenings by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org but the latest applications will be considered will be Monday 24 November 2014.
Music will be provided by a local DJ from in front of the Telkom building in Main Road on Thursday to Saturday evening.
A Remembrance Xmas Tree with Xmas lights will be placed at the Somerset West City Hall where the public can sponsor a Xmas light by way of a donation for a person or pet that has passed on.
The Opening Parade will take place on Wednesday 03 December 2014 in Main Road, from Lourensford Road to Church Street and will be made up of local school drummies and bands, vehicles, people, motorcyclists and more. The Opening Parade will start at 18.30 from Lourensford Road and Main Road will be closed by Traffic at Lourensford Road at 18.00 and closed at Church Street and Lourens Street (where parade walkers will disperse). After the Opening Parade has taken place, Lourensford Road and Lourens Street will be re-opened for traffic. Church Street will be closed off at 16.00 on Wednesday afternoon for the temporary stage to be erected in front of the Somerset West City Hall in Main Road. From this stage the official opening and switching-on of the Xmas lights will take place.
The official opening and switching-on of the Xmas lights will be performed and a well-known local artist will be the MC for the evening. There will also be a small brass band routine from the Somerset West Rotary Club’s’ Sir Lowry’s Pass small brass band, a routine by Beaumont Primary drummies, a special ballroom dance set performed by a well-known local dancing pair, and many more! The public is invited to attend the official opening where Xmas carols will also be sung before the official switching-on of the Xmas lights. XXX will perform until 22.30 on Wednesday evening.
Companies are also requested to sponsor a Xmas light decoration – there are 40 available for sponsorships. All companies sponsoring will be mentioned in the Festival brochure.
Businesses in Main Road are also requested to participate in the festivals by taking advantage of extended shopping hours and decorating their shop fronts.
This Somerset West Festival of Lights are being organised by the Community for the Community – all revenue generated will go back to the community via Rotary and Lion community projects.
Supported by the City of Cape Town
Anne-Marie (Storm) Buys
Festival Promotions Association (FPA)(NPO 055-405)
e-mail address email@example.com
Mobile no. 082 617 6226