Sunday will see Leicester lit up with festive cheer as the Christmas Lights are switched on.
The switch-on of Leicester’s Christmas lights at 4.30pm is just part of a packed programme of events on Sunday (22 November) including real reindeer, giant Christmas trees, thousands of twinkling lights and an illuminated Ferris wheel.
From 11am, shoppers will be able to pick up a hot chocolate – or some hot chestnuts – from Leicester Market, which will host its 7th annual Winter Food Festival.
With a licensed bar and more than 150 stalls, selling locally-produced food and drink, the festival will provide plenty of opportunities for visitors to sample tasty treats or to find the perfect Christmas gift for food lovers. The stalls will be open until 6pm.
At 12 noon in Jubilee Square, the arrival of Santa’s sleigh – and four of his reindeer – will help create a festive atmosphere.
A bird’s eye view of the reindeer – as well as stunning views of the city centre – can be had from Leicester’s Wheel of Light. The 110ft-high big wheel will be in Jubilee Square until 3 January, operating every day except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Over on Gallowtree Gate, some of the cast of De Montfort Hall’s Christmas pantomime Snow White will be at the Visit Leicester centre to hand out goody bags and balloons.
In Town Hall Square, the city’s giant tableau scenes will this year feature characters from Wallace and Gromit and The Wind in the Willows, with a traditional nativity scene also on display. Live entertainment, including music from the Salvation Army at 4pm, will take place too.
From 2pm on Humberstone Gate, a giant stage will host a programme of live music and entertainment, including the Bullfrog Arts Choir (2.05pm-2.25pm) and La Bella Ukulele (3.35pm-3.55pm).
At 4.30pm, crowds in front of the stage will join in the countdown to the big switch-on, as the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Cllr Ted Cassidy MBE, flicks the switch that lights up Leicester.
Father Christmas will make a special appearance on the Humberstone Gate stage to help the Lord Mayor with the switch-on.
The Red Hot Santas will then take to the stage at 4.30pm, with their unique blend of music and fun bringing the programme to an end.
Other events taking place in Leicester on Sunday 22 November include Theatre of Light – an exciting light and colour show – in St Peter’s Square at Highcross (4pm-10pm), and a night-time spectacular in the city’s cultural quarter.
From 5pm in Orton Square the ‘Light the Night’ event will create an arcade of games and illuminations, featuring huge retro computer games and the world-famous Digital Funfair – a collection of interactive games and installations. There will also be live music at Curve.
Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor for culture, leisure and sport said: “The switch-on of Leicester’s Christmas lights is just the start of the city’s festive celebrations – and it promises to be a day to remember.
“With the return of the popular Winter Food Festival, exciting light shows, real reindeer, and lots of live entertainment, there will be plenty going on in Leicester on 22 November.
“I hope that the events we’ve arranged will encourage people to discover the shops, bars and restaurants – and the huge range of entertainment and culture – that the city centre has to offer.”
Leicester’s Christmas lights have been upgraded this year, with a brand new display on Granby Street and two new ‘Merry Christmas’ decorations on Church Gate.
Two giant Christmas trees will be lit up on 22 November, with a 40ft Sitka Spruce in Town Hall Square and a 50ft tree at the Clock Tower.
For more information, visit www.visitleicester.info/christmas
Sunday 22 November:
Winter Food Festival at Leicester Market: 11am – 6pm
Real reindeer, Santa’s Sleigh and Wheel of Light in Jubilee Square: 12 noon-5pm* (*rides on the Wheel of Light continue until 9pm)
Meet the cast of Snow White at Visit Leicester, Gallowtree Gate: 2pm-3.45pm
Music and entertainment on the Humberstone Gate stage: 2pm-5pm
Wallace & Gromit and Wind in the Willows tableau scenes in Town Hall Square, with a puppet nativity show at 3.15pm and the Salvation Army band at 4pm
SWITCH-ON OF LEICESTER’S CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, HUMBERSTONE GATE STAGE: 4.30pm
Theatre of Light, St Peter’s Square, Highcross: 4pm-10pm
Light the Night, Cultural Quarter: 5pm-8pm