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City gets ready for Christmas

Published on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

THE MAMMOTH task of installing the colourful garlands and twinkling lights that will decorate Leicester city centre this Christmas is now nearly complete.

Contractors are busy putting up the decorations that span the city’s main shopping streets and checking the 16,000 bulbs that will light Leicester up in the run-up to Christmas.

This year, an extra £50,000 has been added to Leicester’s Christmas budget to update the city’s stock of decorations and replace worn-out fixtures and fittings.

The new funding means there’s a fresh new look for Market Street, where five brand new decorative spans are now in place.  The contemporary decorations, in silver and gold, feature snowflakes and Christmas trees – similar to the designs created for Granby Street last Christmas.

At the Clock Tower, shiny new garlands and new LED lamps will ensure that Leicester’s landmark looks its best this Christmas – and a giant 50ft Christmas tree will be traditionally decorated with hundreds of multi-coloured lights and brand new baubles.

Town Hall Square will celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with an animated tableau scene, while the Bishop Street side of the square will be transformed into a winter woodland, providing a festive setting for the city’s traditional nativity scene and a performance space for local choirs and carol-singers.

Assistant city mayor for culture, leisure and sport Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “This year, we’ve got a mix of traditional decorations and some contemporary new lights that will help create a really special Christmas atmosphere in Leicester.

“There’s also a packed programme of events, which should offer something for everyone – young and old – in the run-up to Christmas.”

Leicester’s countdown to Christmas gets under way on Thursday 17 November, with live entertainment on the Humberstone Gate stage from 5pm, an opportunity to meet the cast of De Montfort Hall’s Christmas pantomime, and the switch-on of the city’s Christmas lights at 6.30pm.

The stars of Jack & The Beanstalk – including singer Sam Bailey – will be signing autographs and posing for selfies outside the Visit Leicester centre from 5pm until 6pm.

On the Humberstone Gate stage, Lord Mayor Cllr Stephen Corrall, assisted by Father Christmas, will flick the switch that lights up Leicester at 6.30pm, before the cast of Grease – Curve’s Christmas show – take to the stage for a festive sing-along of songs from the show.

Leicester band Johnny & The Goodtime Boys will provide the grand finale to the stage show at 7.15pm, with some classic soul and Motown to get everyone dancing – while in St Peter’s Square at Highcross, neon birds and stilt-walkers will help create a ‘Snowtopia’ winter wonderland until 9pm.

The switch-on of Leicester’s Christmas lights will signal the start of a festive weekend in the city, with the return of the funfair on Humberstone Gate (from Saturday 19 November) and the city’s popular Winter Food and Drink Festival, which will fill Leicester Market with delicious local food and drink on Sunday 20 November.

There’ll be plenty for families and young children in Jubilee Square on Saturday 19 November, including a surprise visit by Santa’s – real – reindeer. Staff from Twycross Zoo will be on hand to answer questions about the animals in the zoo – and Santa himself may also make an appearance. All activities run from 11am until 4pm.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy views of Leicester and its illuminations from the Wheel of Light – the giant ferris wheel that will be back in Jubilee Square from 11 November.

Full details of Leicester’s programme of events for Christmas are available at

They will also be listed in a free Christmas guide to shopping and dining in Leicester that will be widely available from today (Wednesday).