CHRISTMAS lights switch-on organisers say more roads will need to be closed in Halesowen to accommodate the 2019 event – after a whopping 46,000 people turned up for this year’s instalment.

Thousands of families enjoyed free funfair rides for children, craft and food stalls, live music and a host of other entertainment during the annual switch-on in Halesowen town centre.

The event was organised by Dudley Council and the Halesowen Business Improvement District (BID), whose manager Rebecca Howard says talks are already ongoing to expand it next year.

She added: “It was definitely bigger this year than it has ever been and while the majority of people attending were families, there was a wide variety of the community.

“It was almost dangerously busy and next year we are hoping to close off the whole of the Queensway, which is one way to safely accommodate people.

“We will have to look a new layout going forward and next year we are looking at re-planning the whole event, possibly closing more roads, so more people can attend.”

BID director Eve O’Connor, who is also manager of the Cornbow Shopping Centre, said the success of this year’s event proved there was an appetite to make the switch-on festivities even bigger.

She added: “Normally, we peak from mid-afternoon until the switch-on but this year we had people coming along throughout the day.

“We’ve benefited from the growth of the event and people’s word of mouth about how good it is.”

On the planned expansion, she said: “It is something we have to liaise with the local authority over – we have to look at expanding it because it’s so busy.

“We will be going back to the drawing board because we need more space for people and we hope to make the event even bigger and better.”

This was the first year the BID was involved with the switch-on and Miss Howard believes its work in spreading the word about Halesowen far and wide is working.

She added: “We have built a bigger online presence for the town and a bigger following on social media really helps in terms of advertising events and attracting footfall from further afield.

“The free fair rides helped parents with kids save a bit of money and because of that, the event was really successful for businesses as people were able to spend a bit more with them and they reported a 30-40 per cent increase in intake.”