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Countdown to Christmas gets under way

Published on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Christmas in Leicester

THE LIGHTS are going up and the giant tree is in place at Leicester’s Clock Tower – and that can only mean one thing: the countdown to Christmas is well under way.

With just a week 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 spectacular real ice rink in Jubilee Square and the chance to meet Santa – free of charge – in his traditionally-decorated grotto in the new market square.

There’s also a festive street food event to look forward to, a two-day Christmas fair in the city’s medieval Guildhall, and the opportunity to see Leicester’s twinkling Christmas lights from the top of a 110ft big wheel.

And for those who love a good festive film, there’s a special treat this year as Leicester’s new market square hosts a free outdoor screening of the Christmas classic, Elf.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Our Christmas programme should provide plenty of opportunities for families and friends to have fun together in Leicester city centre.

“The real ice rink is back again, but this time there will be a new outdoor section for skaters to enjoy – so it’s bigger and better for 2019.

“I hope that people will enjoy everything the city has to offer this Christmas, whether they’re skating on ice, 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 Silver Street, High Street and Cank Street this year. In total, around 20 city centre streets will be lit up for Christmas.

All the decorations, including thousands of twinkling pea-lights on the Clock Tower Christmas tree, will be lit up at the big switch-on on Thursday 21 November.

Both the tree and the switch-on event have been sponsored by Octopus Energy.

While Humberstone Gate will be the focus for the big switch-on, there will also be brass bands in Town Hall Square from 5pm, where visitors will be able to see a traditional nativity scene and an animated display of Woodland Tales.

A special Christmas Canteen will open in the new market square at 12 noon, with a bar area and lots of tasty street food, while film fans will be able to enjoy a free outdoor screening of Elf at 4.30pm.

Over on Humberstone Gate, a packed programme of entertainment will get under way at 5pm.

BBC Radio Leicester’s Jimmy and Summaya will host the event, which will feature a performance by the Studio 79 dance group and music from 4th Avenue, Gareth John and The Platforms.

There will also be a song from Antony Costa – the singer from Blue who will be appearing as Abanazar in De Montfort Hall’s Christmas pantomime, Aladdin – and he will be joined on the Humberstone Gate stage by BBC Radio Leicester’s Martin Ballard, who plays Widow Twankey in the panto that opens on 14 December.

The panto stars will join the Lord Mayor of Leicester Cllr Annette Byrne for the big switch-on at 6.30pm.

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 can be found at christmasinleicester.co.uk.