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The city’s big double lights switch-on started in Cathedral Square and ended in style in Queensgate shopping centre on Saturday November 18.

A chorus of Jingle Bells rang out through the shopping centre as hundreds of families poured in after the Cathedral Square event to continue the festive fun and see the annual Christmas light switch on.


A pantomime cast, including Peter Pan and Captain Hook took to the stage and put on a show for shoppers with ‘boos’ for the baddies and ‘cheers’ for the goodies, before spinning a giant wheel that gave everyone the chance to win some amazing prizes.


The main prize was a trip to Lapland, thanks to Thomas Cook, and was won by local resident Aimee Butler, who will be whisked off to the North Pole on December 15 to meet Santa and his helpers at the enchanting Santa’s Village.


The cast were joined by the founder of Anna’s Hope, Queensgate’s charity of the year, Carole Hughes and four special children who helped press the plunger and illuminate Queensgate’s festive lights.

Mark Broadhead, Centre Director at Queensgate Shopping Centre said: “The atmosphere in the centre was fantastic and listening to the crowd sing in unison was quite something. To be able to raise awareness of Anna’s Hope to such a large crowd and to explain the amazing work they do was really important for us and for the charity, and I’m honoured they agreed to turn out lights on this year.”


Saturday also saw the arrival of Santa and the opening of his grotto in Central Square in Queensgate and the launch of the Gift Tree, supporting Spurgeon’s Children Charity.

The grotto opening times are:

Saturday November 18 – Sunday December 3

Mon- Fri 11am- 5pm

Saturday 10am- 6pm

Sunday 10.30am- 4.30pm

From Monday December 4 – December 24

Mon- Fri 10am-6pm

Saturday 10am-6pm

Sunday 10.30am-4.30pm

(Santa will be away from his grotto daily from 1pm-1.30pm to feed his reindeer, please note this time may vary slightly from day to day depending on queues).

Grotto entry is £5.99 per child, each child will receive Christmas present from Santa. Keep your experience forever and have your photo taken with Santa, prices start at £4.

Photos: Chris Brudenell


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