Christmas song – My Favourite Time of Year released for 2011

The song has been released today and it is hoped that it will become the Christmas song of 2011 with the help of ITV. The spectacular Victorian-themed Christmas song; My Favourite Time of Year by The Florin Street Band is set to benefit numerous charities this Christmas as it becomes the theme to ITV’s Text Santa appeal.The period music video attracted the skills of top American cinematographer, John Perez, and sees Shropshire’s Blists Hill Victorian Town in the Ironbridge Gorge,covered in snow, with a cast and crew of over 100 people.

The YouTube hit recently caused a stir across the pond when the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” requested permission to perform it at their high profile concerts in Washington D.C. – an honour rarely bestowed upon modern-day Christmas songs.

Originally released in 2010, My Favourite Time of Year, written and performed by British composer Leigh Haggerwood, has become an internet sensation gaining legions of passionate supporters and celebrity fans including Jamie Oliver and Ryan Seacrest. British composer Leigh Haggerwood could find no record company backing for the project and decided to make it happen himself by gathering his musician friends and using his life savings to fund the project.

philip and Christine will host the first show of Text Santa on ITV

ITV have chosen to use ‘My Favourite Time of Year’ as the theme song to ‘Text Santa’ a new Christmas entertainment event and charity initiative. Nine charities, each with the ability to make a real difference to people’s quality of life over the Christmas period, will benefit from the first ever Text Santa appeal. The shows will be hosted by TV favourites Phillip Schofield, Christine Bleakley, Ant and Dec and Holly Willoughby.

Leigh Haggerwood was approached by producers of the new ITV Text Santa appeal earlier this year, he said: “The ITV producers really liked the song and felt it would be a great match for Text Santa, so they asked if I’d consider letting them use it as the theme music for the appeal. When they explained the project I was really impressed by the idea and the nine fantastic charities it’s supporting, so of course I said yes! Since the song will undoubtedly become synonymous with Text Santa, and they’re such great causes, I think it’s only fair that the charities benefit from the success of the song too, so I have decided to donate all of this year’s UK download recording profits to the Text Santa charities along with Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust – an amazing educational charity whose Victorian town was the location for our beautiful music video.”

Why he created the song

Disappointed by the demise of the Christmas charts, Leigh Haggerwood set about writing an authentic, traditional style song that would include all the elements of true Christmas classics. Leigh explains why he wrote a traditional Christmas song“I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s at a time when everyone looked forward to the charts on Christmas day, but the magic has gone because nobody seems to be writing new Christmas songs anymore and the music industry is now geared towards albums, not singles.“Writing a song that could match the standard of the songs we know and love was a massive challenge for me, but as My Favourite Time of Year evolved, it felt like it was meant to be. I imagined the music video as a Victorian winter wonderland setting as I was writing the lyrics, but an idea like that costs money, and I couldn’t find anyone to back me.“It was clear though that people really do care about the Christmas charts, so I took the decision to gather together my musician friends and form a collective which I called ‘The Florin Street Band’.”

The recording session at Trevor Horn's Sarm studios

Filming a Victorian music video

Video production companies would not entertain such a grand production idea with such a small budget, and this was the next barrier. But Leigh was fortunate enough to discover a talented director called Nick Bartleet and his company Pixelloft.

Nick said: “I was blown away by the quality of his work. He loved the song and totally got my vision of snow-filled streets, lanterns, and a magical feel. Budget was a big issue; we squeezed every possibility out of what I could afford and asked friends and family to help.

Meanwhile, a legendary American cinematographer called John Perez heard about the project and loved the idea of the quaint English Victorian town so he offered his services as Director of Photography, and with his incredible CV which includes videos by Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Coldplay, this was a major scoop.

We chose Blists Hill Victorian Town at Ironbridge in Shropshire as our location. It’s a wonderful place, very authentic and quaint and the result is a beautiful video that really captures the spirit of Christmas.”

The future

Leigh Haggerwood is now writing a Florin Street album for release in 2012, and is currently discussing the possibility of turning Florin Street into a musical animation.

The Text Santa launch show hosted by Philip Schofield and Christine Bleakley will be broadcast on ITV1 on Sunday 11th December with its live finale hosted by Ant and Dec and later Holly Willoughby taking place on Christmas Eve.

Favourite Time of Year is available at iTunes, Amazon and most other online stores. All UK download recording profits will be shared between the following charities:

 6/7 to go to the Text Santa Charities: Carers UK, Crisis, Help the Hospices, Samaritans, WRVS, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Noah’s Ark Appeal, Helping Hand, Yorkhill Children’s Foundation and 1/7 to: Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.