Christmas spirit remains in Leicester during cost-of-living crisis

By Zarina Ahmed

Throughout the cost-of-living crisis, Leicester’s Christmas events in the middle of the city centre have stayed affordable for the public.

Fair rides, stalls and several lights are part of the fair

Brandon Isset, who led the organisation of the fair event, said: “I think Christmas is a special time and it’s my favourite, too, so I think keeping the price the same is necessary – especially during what’s happening now.”

The price for the tickets to participate had been £1, which was an easily affordable price for people to pay.

However, with the increasing costs it took to organise the event, which included several heavy loading vehicles, there was conversation about also increasing the price to make up for losses in the budget.

“We didn’t want to change the price and make it so some people couldn’t join in when it’s such a big deal here,” Mr Isset said.

Conducting the event included several days of heavy loading the rides and stalls, both exponentially requiring more funding with increased costs.

Costs also started to rise with not only the delivering of the rides and stalls but also the costs to operate them.

People line up for the food stalls

Mr Isset said: “I wanted to give back, really, by keeping the price the same. What good would it have done to change the price?

“For me, my favourite part of being involved with all of this is to see people’s enjoyment, going on the rides and stuff – and if that means not upping the price, then it’s alright, really.”

The Christmas event is made up of a variety of rides and snack stalls on Humberstone Gate until January 3rd.

Leicester charity wraps Christmas presents to raise money

By Alice Wright

Volunteers for Leicester Children’s Holidays are offering to wrap people’s Christmas presents to raise money for disadvantaged children to go on holiday.

Wrapped up: Volunteers (left and right) and Nominations Coordinator Michelle Cullen (middle)

The charity is one of the oldest in Leicester and provide free respite breaks for children aged eight to 11 who face difficult circumstances at home. It has provided more than 60,000 free holidays to children in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Its volunteers are wrapping people’s Christmas presents in the Highcross shopping centre in exchange for a small donation but are also selling stocking fillers and toys to help raise money for their charity.

Nominations co-ordinator Michelle Cullen said: “The money goes directly to helping children, so it will go to fund either the holidays we take them on, or it will go to fund social care or clubs.

“Say we have a child that has an opportunity to go away, either on a day trip or residential or an activity or therapy, but they can’t afford to do it, so we offer to help fund that child to do that as well.”

To find out more information visit the charity’s website or its visitor centre located in Highcross shopping centre next to the Post Office.

Leicester’s Christmas Lights Switch-On set to take place today

By Azim Saiyed

Tonight (THURS,Nov17) marks the official start of the festive season in Leicester as streets will be lit up at 6.30pm.

The key places to be illuminated will be the Town Hall and the Clock Tower with over 16,000 led lights.

A large Christmas tree at the Clock Tower will be displayed with twinkling lights and baubles.

Visitors are advised to park in Highcross Shopping Centre and walk to the events to avoid traffic congestion.

There will be food, films and music at the Green Dragon Square whilst costume characters entertain in the streets.

For more information, visit:

Leicester Christmas lights switch-on draws record crowds

By Conor de Smith

Leicester’s annual Christmas lights switch-on saw record crowds as the city got the festive season underway last Thursday night.

About 22,000 people attended the event in Humberstone Gate and the area surrounding the Clock Tower to witness the illuminations.

The on-stage entertainment was headed by ITV Central News presenter Matt Teale and featured a host of celebrity guests including X Factor winner Sam Bailey, BBC Radio Leicester’s Martin Ballard, and band the Simpletones.

The switch-on itself was conducted by Leicester Lord Mayor Cllr Ross Grant and ‘Santa Claus’ before a rendition of White Christmas was performed by Bailey, who won the X Factor in 2013.

How Leicester City Council decorated the city.

Leicester City Council has spent an extra £50,000 on festivities having updated the stock of decorations over the last three years. The £170,000 comprehensive budget was distributed between 16,000 lights across 15 city centre streets, a 14m Christmas Tree by the Clock Tower, the Wheel of Light, and an Alice in Wonderland themed tableau, amongst other activities.

The giant ice rink, which will be 50 per cent larger than last year, opens on Saturday, December 8, while there have been decorations erected in St Martins for the first time due to extra funding.

Sarah Harrison, City Centre Director for Leicester City Council, said: “It’s really nice for people to come together. It’s the start of the Christmas season and we get more and more people every single year so we must be doing something right.

“We start planning in February. It is a very long process because there is so much to organise like the ice rink, ordering the Christmas tree, refurbishing the lights, changing the old lights to LEDs, and building the table. It takes a good six months to get Christmas organised.

“With the amount of time and investment we put into Christmas, the city centre looks fabulous to the point where even the most ‘bah humbug’ of people can’t help but smile. We now have these wonderful new public spaces which is why we have so many activities this year.”

Leicester tree lights up sky.

A street food event managed by Canteen UK was also held in New Market Square, allowing the public to enjoy an array of foods such as gourmet burgers, hot dogs, curry, and cheesecake.

Sarah Ventre, owner of curry stall Full of Chaat, said: “We were on board as soon as Canteen UK asked us to do it. We love Leicester and there is a really nice atmosphere here. We have been here since 10.00am and we have really enjoyed it.

“The community feel is another reason why we chose to take part. We’re from Birmingham and do a lot of local events which we enjoy doing, such as our city’s own Christmas lights, and this is very similar.”

The ever-improving event seemed to be a hit with crowds. Christina Allan, 20, a Leicester resident, said that this year’s spectacle has been the best yet.

“I really enjoyed the Christmas lights switch on,” she said. “My favourite bits were the Alice in Wonderland display and the reindeer in St Peter’s Square. It was much better lit than last year and it looked as though they made much more of an effort with the decorations this time around.

“The turnout was a lot larger for the switch-on itself which made for a better night and a much better atmosphere, even if it did take a while to leave the city centre after it had all ended.”

Christmas tree will erected in Oadby this week due to generous donations

By Conor de Smith

Oadby will have a Christmas tree on display this year after two businesses donated to pay for it last week.

The town was set to go without a festive tree after two previous trees were heavily vandalised last year, rendering them unusable.

An appeal was launched by Love Oadby last Thursday morning asking for local businesses, individuals and volunteers to help fund a 20ft tree.

Knightsbridge Estate Agents and Oadby Plastics promptly responded to ensure that a tree will be anchored in Oadby’s town centre shopping precinct.

After working with Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, the tree is set to be erected this week with lights and tinsel.

Luke St Clair, co-founder of Love Oadby, said: “I am pleased to say that two local businesses have come forward to help fund the Christmas tree that will go up in the precinct. It is going to be a fantastic tree so a big thank you to those two companies.

“We have been working with the local council to get it all organised so, all being well, we should have a tree in Oadby this year so everyone can come and enjoy it.”