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Thousands watch Leicester light up for Christmas

Published on Friday, November 22, 2019

Leicester's Christmas tree

THE COUNTDOWN to Christmas got under way in Leicester last night with the switch-on of the city’s spectacular festive lights.

More than 20,000 people braved the cold to watch the city light up ­- and to enjoy a packed programme of entertainment organised by the city council.

A free outdoor screening of the Christmas classic Elf attracted hundreds of people to the new market square, while brass bands provided a festive backdrop in Town Hall Square, where visitors enjoyed the lights and a traditional nativity scene.

Costumed characters – including some dazzling stilt walkers ­­– mingled with shoppers, people wrapped up warm to enjoy a spin on Leicester’s Wheel of Light, and crowds on Humberstone Gate enjoyed music from 4th Avenue, Gareth John and The Platforms.

There was also a song from special guest Antony Costa, who will be appearing as Abanazar in De Montfort Hall’s Christmas pantomime, Aladdin, this year.

The singer from Blue got everyone singing along with the band’s hit, One Love.

At 6.30pm, as the Lord Mayor of Leicester Cllr Annette Byrne flicked the switch, 16,000 lamps lit up the city centre – including thousands of fairy lights on Leicester’s beautiful 50ft Christmas tree.

Leicester deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “The switch-on of Leicester’s Christmas lights is always a hugely popular event and signals the start of the festive season in the city.

“Our Christmas tree at the Clock Tower looks extra special this year, thanks to hundreds of colourful new baubles and thousands of new lights.

“Leicester’s Christmas lights help create a wonderful festive atmosphere that creates a perfect backdrop for some Christmas shopping or a family night out.”

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 are lit up for Christmas.

Full details of all the events taking place in Leicester this Christmas can be found at

Anyone who missed the big switch-on can watch video highlights of the event here



A summary of Leicester’s Christmas events is set out below:


The Wheel of Light. Jubilee Square

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

Daily (closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) until 6 January.

Standard ticket £5; children under 1.4m £4; family ticket £15.

11am-9pm Mon-Thurs; 11am-11pm Fri-Sat; 12noon-9pm Sun.


Traditional nativity scene and Woodland Tales. Town Hall Square

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


Funfair. Humberstone Gate

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


30 November-1 December: Christmas Fair. The Guildhall.

Arts, crafts, gift ideas and locally-sourced food and drink.

Admission £1 adults; children free. Tel: 0116 253 2569.



1 December: Make your own Christmas tree decorations. New Walk Museum.

Admission £3.50. Tel: 0116 225 4900.



From 5 December: Christmas Ice Rink. Jubilee Square

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

Tickets from, Visit Leicester on Gallowtree Gate and the Jubilee Square box office. £10/£8.50 (£9/£7.50 at off-peak times). Skate for a fiver on our preview days (5-6 December)

From 10am daily (11am on Mondays to Fridays until 20 December) until 5 January. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


From 7 December: Santa in the Square. New Market Square

Visit Santa in his snow-covered grotto, every day until 22 December. Free admission – and free small gift for every child.

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


8 December: Christmas Movie Day at the Guildhall

Enjoy some of the best Christmas films in front of an open fire in the beautiful Guildhall.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (10am; 12.30pm); The Wizard of Oz (3pm); It’s a Wonderful Life (6pm)

Admission £5. Tel: 0116 253 2569.


8 December: Christmas Toys & Steam Day. Abbey Pumping Station

Start the festive season with a visit to the Abbey Pumping Station Museum and a chance

to see the Gimsom beam engines in steam!

Admission £3.50 (£2.50 concessions). Tel: 0116 299 5111.

12noon – 5pm


From 12 December: LightWeight. New Market Square

Strike a pose at LightWeight, a giant shimmering globe featuring live animation, every day until 21 December. Presented by BidLeicester.



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 28 December


Christmas gift ideas at Visit Leicester on Gallowtree Gate:

Book your tickets for Leicester’s real ice rink. Choose from a wide range of Leicester-themed gifts, including gorgeous hand-painted baubles and Christmas cards.


Christmas shows in Leicester include:

  • 23 November – 11 January: West Side Story. Curve
  • 28 November: The Nutcracker. Haymarket Theatre
  • 9-31 December: Giraffes Can’t Dance. Curve
  • 9-26 December: Beauty and the Beast. Peepul Enterprise
  • 12 December: Sleeping Beauty. The Y Theatre
  • 13 December – 5 January: Robin Hood. Little Theatre
  • 14 December – 5 January: Aladdin. De Montfort Hall
  • 14 December: The Wizard of Oz. The Y Theatre
  • 17 December: Christmas Cabaret. The Y Theatre
  • 21 December: Jack’s Giant Adventure. The Y Theatre