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Hundreds of families turned out to see kids’ favourite Peppa Pig and family join Santa and the Cresset panto cast to officially get Christmas started in Queensgate.


The light switch on event on Friday (November 7) was hosted by Kev Lawrence from the Heart FM breakfast show who entertained huge crowds before the shopping centre’s amazing lights display was switched on.


Former Skins star Mitch Hewer who plays Aladdin in the Cresset panto was joined on stage by Widow Twankey, the popular dame played by Zach Vanderfelt followed by local swing singer Peter Jay who performed some Michael Buble tracks and of course Santa himself made an appearance.

Peppa Pig, George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig stole the show though with cheers from delighted kids!


The event kicked off the start of the Christmas activities in Queensgate and Father Christmas will now be in his grotto based outside John Lewis in North Square, daily from Saturday November 15  until Christmas Eve. Tickets are £4.50 per child.

The Giving Tree has returned where shoppers are invited to take a tag from its branches and donate a present to local charity, Spurgeons, by leaving it at the Customer Information Desk.


Parking is FREE after 5.30pm until 11.30pm from December 1 until December 23 and trading is until 9pm on weeknights. Plus, to help shoppers during the Christmas rush, the Kidney Research Charity Gift Wrap is back from Thursday November 27 until Christmas Eve. The jolly team of wrapping experts are on hand to cut, fold and stick around presents of all shapes and sizes – even the tricky ones.


And don’t forget to pick up a bargain when Black Friday returns to the shops on Friday November 28. The American shopping phenomenon has grown year-on-year and 2014 is expected to be bigger than ever. On this day, stores will offer their biggest pre-Christmas discounts, giving plenty of opportunity to snap up a bargain or two for the family – or even a cheeky treat for yourself. Look out for discount details on social media channels nearer the time.

Finally, the perfect Christmas package is complete with the Salvation Army Brass Band guaranteed to be in full fine form, playing Christmas songs on Saturday December 6, 13 and 20 from 10am until 2pm.

Santa’s Grotto is open daily from Saturday November 15…

Monday – Friday 10am to 6pm

Saturday – 9am to 6pm

Sunday – 10.30am until 4.30pm

Grotto tickets are available on arrival and tickets cost £4.50 per child (which includes a present).

For gift ideas, all the latest news, Christmas opening hours, parking information, events and competitions, visit

Were you there? Look out for more photos in the December issue of ESP Magazine.

Photos: Emma Bothamley for ESP Magazine.


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