Leicester Christmas lights switch-on signals the start of a festive weekend

Beginning of a festive weekend: Leicester City council’s Festival and Events Officer Laura Hailstone (left) and Leicester City’s Festival and Events Manager, Maggie Shutt MBE before the switch-on.


by Luke Cowley

Leicester City centre was lit up with 16,000 festive lights last night, signalling the beginning of a Christmas program that spans over the whole weekend.

Thousands of people flocked in the centre to view the switch-on, which provided a festive scene in the city centre, including a 50ft Christmas tree, covered with 6,000 lights, at the Clock Tower.

The city was illuminated by X-factor winner Sam Bailey – who also performed on the main stage in Humberstone Gate.

More than 20,000 merrymakers waved light-up sticks in the air, danced and sung to festive tunes and queued to have their photos taken with Father Christmas who roamed the city centre accompanied by a walking Christmas tree.

Laura Hailstone, Leicester City council’s festival and events officer, said: “People loved the Christmas events last year so this year we have incorporated a program over the whole weekend.

“We decided to change the lights switch-on date to a Thursday this year in order to disperse crowds a little more and give people the opportunity to visit the shops, but to also ensure that people have a whole weekend full of festive fun and spirit!”

The main stage also saw many other acts perform such as Leicester band Johnny and The Goodtime Boys and headliners Le Belle Ukulele.

The live entertainment was presented by BBC Radio Leicester duo Jim and Jo.

Over in St Peter’s Square at Highcross, a winter wonderland scene was created while over at Gallowtree Gate people posed with cast members from De Montfort Hall Christmas show Jack and the Beanstalk.

Last year around 25,000 people turned up for the one-day light switch-on that Laura said resulted in many ‘extremely nice comments’ from the public. She added: “we think people will be really excited about the Christmas events this year!

“With the expanded program we’ve introduced, people can come for the switch-on on Thursday, the reindeers on Saturday then return for the Food and Drink Festival on Sunday rather than cram it in all in one day.”

The annual funfair will return to Humberstone Gate on Saturday, November 19, with real-life reindeer also visiting the city centre, while the popular Winter Food and Drink Festival will return at Leicester Market on Sunday, November 20.


%d bloggers like this: