Belfast Telegraph

Christmas has arrived (very) early in Coleraine

They say it comes earlier and earlier every year.

And with more than three months still to go until December 25, Coleraine Borough Council appears to have brought celebrating Christmas early to a new extreme.

Despite temperatures yesterday hitting close to 20 degrees, some streets in the North Coast began to resemble a festive Christmas card, as traditional snowflake decorations appeared.

With Halloween still to be celebrated, council workers started to fix Christmas lights throughout Coleraine.

The town’s official Christmas switch-on of the lights is not scheduled until November 26.

But the reason for the early decorating is down to a small workforce and large workload.

A council spokeswoman said there are only two men to decorate six towns in the borough for the festive season, resulting in the Christmas decorating starting as soon as the summer programme finishes.

She said: “Coleraine Borough Council has planned the annual Christmas switch-on events for the end of November through to the second week of December.

“The erection of the lights in the towns is carried out by two members of council’s maintenance team. It is therefore practical to undertake such work in times when it is manageable for the team and when it will not be hampered by high winds or adverse weather conditions.”

Coleraine may be one of the first boroughs in Northern Ireland to start celebrating Christmas, but Debenhams in CastleCourt set a precedent among retailers by erecting its first tree in June.

The festive tree was on show in the Belfast store, complete with coloured baubles, in the summer months — despite it being closer to last Christmas than this one.

The big Royal Avenue department store's festive display, near the top of the escalator on the first floor, also offers customers details of a Christmas savings card scheme, promising “up to £40 free” for those who top up throughout the year.

In 2009, Ballymena attracted criticism as the first town to light up in Northern Ireland on November 3.

Meanwhile, Selfridges in Oxford Street, London launched its Christmas season on August 2 this year — its earliest-ever start.

Geraldine James, Selfridges Christmas Shop's buying manager, said: “I can see a time when we offer a capsule Christmas collection throughout the year.”

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