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 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.
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,
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.
A summary of Leicester’s Christmas events is set out below:
From 15 November: 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.
11am-9pm Mon-Thurs; 11am-11pm Fri-Sat; 12noon-9pm Sun.
21 November: Christmas Lights switch-on: Sponsored by Octopus Energy
Humberstone Gate and the Clock Tower
Enjoy entertainment from the Platforms, 4thAvenue, Gareth John and a special performance by Blue’s Antony Costa on the main stage on Humberstone Gate.
5pm-8pm (Lights on at 6.30pm)
21 November: Christmas Canteen. New Market Square
Enjoy tasty food and drink from some top local businesses. Bar available.
12 noon – 10.30pm (Christmas carols at 6.30pm)
21 November: Elf. New Market Square
Enjoy a free outdoor screening of our favourite Christmas film, suitable for all the family.
From 21 November: 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
21 November: Winter Galactical. St Peter’s Square, Highcross.
Join Titan the Robot and the HighHeeled Spaceships in St Peter’s Square for some intergalactic fun
From 22 November: 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.
From 5 December: Christmas Ice Rink. Jubilee Square
Skate on our spectacular real ice rink, whatever the weather!
Tickets from christmasinleicester.co.uk, Visit Leicester on Gallowtree Gate and the Jubilee Square box office.
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
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. Curve28 November: The Nutcracker. Haymarket Theatre9-31 December: Giraffes Can’t Dance. Curve12 December: Sleeping Beauty. The Y Theatre13 December – 5 January: Robin Hood. Little Theatre14 December – 5 January: Aladdin. De Montfort Hall14 December: The Wizard of Oz. The Y Theatre17 December: Christmas Cabaret. The Y Theatre21 December: Jack’s Giant Adventure. The Y Theatre
source : Leicester City