WHAT’S 46ft tall, fantastically festive and takes pride of place at Leicester’s Clock Tower? It’s this year’s giant Christmas tree and its arrival means the countdown to Christmas has begun.
Over the coming days, Leicester City Council will be dressing the tree with white lights and hundreds of coloured baubles, continuing to decorate the city centre and working with its partners to put the finishing touches to Leicester’s annual programme of festive events.
Highlights include the return of the city’s real ice rink (1 Dec-2 Jan) and the spectacular 110ft-high Wheel of Light (Nov 11-2 Jan) in Jubilee Square.
Santa will also be back, at his new home in a magical grotto at Town Hall Square, which will be free to visit from Saturday 3 December.
The Christmas in Leicester calendar of events will officially get under way on Thursday 17 November when the annual switch on celebration will light up Leicester ready for the festive season.
This year’s event runs from 5pm until 8pm and will feature a packed Christmas cracker of a programme with music, movies, street entertainment, jokes and more.
At Green Dragon Square children will be invited to take to the stage with their best festive funnies and Christmas cracker jokes at the pop-up Joke Spot, hosted by The UK Kids Comedy Festival. Families will also be able to enjoy a free outdoor Christmas movie night with a special outdoor screening of all four Wallace and Gromit short films. There will be more free family-friendly films on the Corn Exchange outdoor screen on Friday (18 Nov) Saturday (19 Nov).
Town Hall Square will be getting into the Christmas spirit for switch on with music, carol singing choirs and live brass bands. The traditional nativity scene will return, and it won’t be too early to have a peek at the new Christmas grotto which will be ready to illuminate with the rest of the city’s lights before Santa takes up residence from Saturday 3 December.
At the Clock Tower, the city’s massive real Christmas tree will be ready to sparkle as the centrepiece to the city’s festive lights display. This year, the tree will be generously sponsored by TalkTalk, which is currently rolling out full fibre, the UK’s fastest broadband, across Leicester.
A countdown – broadcast live by BBC Radio Leicester on speakers across the city centre – will set the scene for the main event at 6.30pm when 16,000 individual lamps will light up streets across the city centre, ready for Christmas.
Costumed characters, street entertainers and a festive fairground in Humberstone Gate (open from Nov 11) will add to the magical atmosphere.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “Our giant tree has arrived and that can mean just one thing – the countdown to Christmas has begun. We’ve still got lots of work to do to get everything ready for our switch on celebration, but people can look forward to a really special atmosphere in the city centre this festive season.”
A festive adventure trail map showing the location of all the key Christmas attractions, along with further details of events and activities, is available online at www.ChristmasInLeicester.co.uk
Leicester’s Christmas Switch On celebration also marks the start of late-night shopping in the city centre, from Thursday 17 November.