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Countdown to Christmas gets under way

Published on Monday, November 5, 2018

Image: City Mayor Peter Soulsby welcomes the arrival of Leicester’s giant Christmas tree with Amy Straszewskyj, Head of HR and Facilities at PPL PRS, which has sponsored Leicester’s tree this year.

THE LIGHTS are going up, the tree’s arrived at the Clock Tower, and the shops are heaving with gift ideas – it may only be November, but it looks like Leicester is ready for Christmas!

With just over two weeks to go before the Christmas lights are switched on, the city council and its partners are busy putting the finishing touches to Leicester’s packed programme of attractions and events.

Amongst this year’s highlights are a bigger – and better – real ice rink in Jubilee Square, a beautifully illuminated interactive globe in Cathedral Gardens, and the chance to meet Santa in his traditionally-decorated grotto in the new market square.

There’s also a festive street food event to look forward to, a special one-day market where you’ll be able to pick up some original works by local artists, and the opportunity to see Leicester’s spectacular Christmas lights from the top of a 110ft big wheel.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “With a bigger and better ice rink, a beautiful Wheel of Light, and the chance for children to meet Santa in the new market square, our Christmas programme should provide plenty of opportunities for families and friends to have fun together in Leicester city centre this year.

“I hope that people will enjoy everything the city has to offer this Christmas, whether they’re shopping for gifts, having a meal, watching a show or simply enjoying Leicester’s fabulous Christmas lights.”

The city council has spent an extra £50,000 this year replacing worn-out fixtures and fittings and updating the city’s stock of lights and decorations. The additional funding means there are brand new decorations for Church Gate and Loseby Lane, while St Martins and Hotel Street will be lit up for the first time.

All the decorations – including thousands of twinkling pea-lights on the snow-covered Clock Tower Christmas tree – will be lit up at the big switch-on on Thursday 22 November.

From 5pm, there will be a packed programme of entertainment on the Humberstone Gate stage – sponsored this year by Octopus Energy.

ITV News Central’s weather presenter Des Coleman will help to host the big switch-on, which will be broadcast live on the channel’s flagship news programme.

At 6.20pm, as the lights are switched on, a flurry of real snow will float down over Humberstone Gate – and everyone in the crowd will join in with a rousing rendition of ‘White Christmas’.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “We hope that there will be something for everyone to enjoy in our packed programme of Christmas events.

“From ice skating to Christmas crafts, there will be plenty of family-friendly activities taking place in Leicester this Christmas.”

Full details of all the events taking place in Leicester this Christmas will be listed in a free guide – available from 14 November – and at


Picture caption: City Mayor Peter Soulsby welcomes the arrival of Leicester's Christmas tree with Amy Straszewskyj of PPL PRS, which has sponsored the tree this year.


Christmas in Leicester 2018

From 16 November: The Wheel of Light. Jubilee Square

Enjoy a bird’s eye view of Leicester’s Christmas lights from our 110-ft ferris wheel.

From 12 noon daily (closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) until 7 January

12 noon-8pm Mon-Thurs; 12 noon-10pm Fri-Sun.


22 November: Christmas Lights Switch-On. Humberstone Gate

A packed evening of events, with live music, entertainment and special guests, including ITV News Central weather presenter Des Coleman and star of Peter Pan, Sam Bailey

5pm-8pm (lights switch-on at 6.20pm)


22 November: Christmas Canteen. New Market Square

Award-winning street food with a festive flavour – and live entertainment!

From 12 noon until 10.30pm


From 22 November: Traditional nativity scene and the adventures of Alice in Wonderland. Town Hall Square

See the story of Christmas and an animated tableau scene under the festive lights in Leicester’s historic Town Hall Square


From 23 November: Funfair. Humberstone Gate

Family-friendly fairground rides in the heart of the city centre until 6 January


From 6 December: Christmas Ice Rink. Jubilee Square

Skate on our spectacular real ice rink, whatever the weather!

Tickets from and Visit Leicester on Gallowtree Gate

From 11am daily (closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) until 6 January


From 8 December: Santa in the Square. New Market Square

Visit Santa in his snow-covered grotto, every day until 23 December. Free admission – and free small gift for every child.

Monday-Friday: 1pm-6pm; Saturday: 10am-6pm; Sunday: 11am-4pm


From 13 December: Christmas in the Gardens. Cathedral Gardens

Add your own face to LightWeight – a unique interactive illuminated sphere – or just soak up the festive atmosphere in the beautifully lit gardens. Brought to you by BID Leicester and St Martins House every day until 22 December.

Daily from 5pm – 10pm


16 December: Art at Christmas. Leicester Market

Find the perfect original gift created by local artists at our special Christmas market

From 11am-4pm


Now open: The Jägerhaus. St Peter’s Square, Highcross

Enjoy the finest festive food and drink at Leicester’s German-themed outside bar.

Open daily from 10am-9pm until 24 December


Christmas shows in Leicester include:

  • 6 December – 13 January: White Christmas. Curve
  • 8-10 December: High Spirits! The Guildhall
  • 13 December – 6 January: Treasure Island. Leicester Haymarket Theatre
  • 14 December – 6 January: Mother Goose. Little Theatre
  • 15 December – 6 January: Peter Pan. De Montfort Hall
  • 22 December – Cinderella. Y Theatre