THE Christmas festivities in Salisbury are well underway following the official launch of the Christmas market and ice rink this afternoon.

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place in the Guildhall Square today (November 29), unveiling a vast range of Christmas stalls and the first skating rink with real ice to the city.

The ribbon was cut by the leader of Wiltshire Council, Jane Scott, accompanied by Mayor of Salisbury Mike Osment, chairman of South Wiltshire Recovery Coordinating Group, Alistair Cunningham, and cabinet member for South Wiltshire Recovery, Pauline Church.

In a speech leading up to the grand opening, Baroness Scott said the Christmas market is filled with "really good artists and traders", adding: "Today is significant for the city, it marks the city has moved on and is well and truly open for business.

"We're looking forward to welcoming not only local people but visitors from all over the world to our city, not just now at Christmas time but in the future."

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As part of the opening celebrations, 11-year-old Amelia Morris took to the ice to perform Christmas-inspired choreography to the Mariah Carey classic, All I Want for Christmas is You.

After the performance Cllr Osment said the overall ice rink launch was "fantastic" and assured he will be going on the ice during its time in Salisbury, adding: "It's just so important for the city, businesses, the people, and it's just an excellent thing to have in Salisbury.

"You know when one person skates, that will bring parents, friends and so many more people to come along and enjoy the rink that is such a massive boost for the city."

Mr Cunningham added: "This rink shows Salisbury is really about fun [and] leisure, in a beautiful, medieval city - what can be a better way to celebrate and bring confidence and positivity back to the city.

"Salisbury has got over the past year and is well on the road to recovery."

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According to Cllr Church, 3,500 ice skating tickets have already been sold.

She said: "It's a great feeling being involved with this, it is after all a real lift for Salisbury and such a boost.

"There's certainly a buzz around the city in the lead up to Christmas, and having an ice rink as well as the stalls is such a great help to the local economy.

"I can't wait to get on there myself."

Tickets for the ice rink can be purchased from the Salisbury Christmas Market website, and the market and rink will stay in the centre of Salisbury until January 6.