Pembroke’s Christmas lights switch-on left a lot of people in the dark last year as hundreds of people were unable to get out of the castle in time to see Santa board his sleigh and head off through the town.

As a result, this year’s visit to Pembroke (in advance of his all- important Christmas Eve trip) will be confined solely to the castle grounds.

“Last year we had a couple of thousand people all attempting to get out of the castle at the same time to watch Santa get on his sleigh and then join him on his parade through the main street,” commented Castle manager John Williams.

“It took between 40 and 50 minutes to get everyone through the gates, but by that time, Santa had long gone. As a result there were many disappointed people.”

The massive surge of people outside the castle gates also gives rise to safety issues.

But the change in tradition has prompted some disappointment from locals who look forward to the annual switching on of the Christmas tree lights in the town centre.

“I think it’s really sad as Santa has always turned on the tree lights in the town for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never heard of any accidents as the road is always closed to traffic,” commented one resident.

“And the kids and adults love it.”

Pembroke Town Council has confirmed that there will no no official switching on of the town lights this year.

Santa’s estimated time of arrival at the Castle is at 6.30pm on Friday, November 24.

As usual, he will be making a spectacular entrance into the castle grounds, however details of the arrival have yet to be confirmed.

He will then perform the official switching on of the castle lights inside the Castle grounds where he will remain, mingling with shoppers attending the Castle's popular Christmas Market, waving to children and enjoying musical entertainment on the outer ward lawn.

The Christmas Market, which is now celebrating its tenth anniversary, will open at 10 am the same day (Friday, November 24) and will continue throughout Saturday and Sunday.  Admission to both the market and Santa’s arrival is free.

Santa's Grotto will also be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am to 3pm.

A second Christmas market will take place the same weekend (November 25 and 26), at the Town Hall, hosted by Pembroke Town Council.

For those who miss Santa's castle appearance, they will be able to catch up with him on December 3 when he embarks on a sleigh tour through Pembroke at around 6pm. He will be visiting The Green, Monkton, and the Grove.

Further details on his precise locations will be published on the town council Facebook page over the coming weeks.