Thousands of people flocked to Manchester city centre for the annual Christmas Lights Switch-On, marking the start of the festive season in the UK’s Christmas capital.
The Manchester Christmas Light Switch-on, in association with Key 103, has become the beginning of Christmas for generations of Manchester people, and this year was no exception.
The city centre squares became Britain’s biggest pop venue for the night as more than 25,000 people watched the spectacular show live in Albert Square and via live feeds on the big screens in Exchange Square and Spinningfields – as well as a third screen which was opened on the night for crowds on Princess Street.
The same amount again – if not more – from watched from Alaska to Australia, as thousands of Manchester ex-pats were also able to share in the festivities through the live web stream.
Live performances from X-Factor favourite James Arthur and pop-rockers The Vamps thrilled the crowds with their energetic performances, with starlets the Neon Jungle readying the crowds beautifully for the headline acts.
Joey, the life-size, living, breathing, galloping puppet horse from the National Theatre’s hit show, War Horse, needs be seen to be believed – a tour de force in puppetry – and the stars of the Phones 4U arena spectacular, Peter Pan, were given a warm reception from the excitable crowd.
Popular talent show performers, Ashleigh and Pudsey, appeared on-stage alongside singing sensation Jodie Prenger ahead of their Dick Whittington panto at the Opera House.
The night was opened with a soaring rendition of The Pogues’ Fairytail of New York expertly sung by Manchester Show Choir – and pulses were set racing by the choreography of the Printwork’s Street Dance competition winners, Rejectz.
The event concluded with 10-minute fireworks spectacular.
Cllr Pat Karney, Manchester Christmas spokesperson, said: “What an incredible night! It felt like the whole of Manchester had come down to Albert Square – thousands of people and of all ages – to help us welcome in Christmas 2013. All the acts were fantastic and they brought the biggest crowds the light switch-on has ever seen – plus the unveiling of the town hall’s lighting was the perfect toast to a remarkable night.
“Our Christmas Lights spectacular has become the official start to Christmas in the city and has become a lasting tradition for Manchester families to join in the fun, enjoy the show and look forward to the festive period. Of course, this is just the start and Christmas in Manchester will be bigger and better than ever before with the opening of the world-famous, award-winning Christmas Markets only a week away!”
Manchester’s award winning Christmas Markets will open officially to the public next week on Friday 15 November, spreading across 9 sites in the city centre with more than 300 stalls. The Markets are the UK’s ORIGINAL, BIGGEST and BEST*.