Christmas lights switch-on is cancelled - Plymouth scraps show as weather batters city
Plymouth's Christmas lights switch-on entertainment has been cancelled as the city prepares to be battered by 70mph winds.
A day of celebrations marking the launch of the winter festival was to be held in Plymouth - but the stage entertainment parts of the event - including the switch-on has been called off because of the weather - with wind expected to reach Gale Force 8.
Panto star Christopher Biggins was to switch on the lights at an event featuring live music and entertainment on stage.
The entertainment, also featuring the Military Wives Choir, won't go ahead.
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City Centre Manager Clint Jones said: "We're incredibly disappointed that the annual Christmas lights switch-on event can't go ahead as we had planned. The severe weather warning for tomorrow is well beyond what we could consider to be safe for a stage and with public safety our top priority we cannot carry on with that element of the event.
“Late night Christmas shopping will still begin tonight, Thursday, and the lights themselves will still be switched on at 6pm – just without the usual ceremony that goes with it! The opening of the Christmas Market, Santa's Grotto and the Winter Ice Rink will still go ahead tomorrow night, so for those planning on heading into the city centre there will still be plenty to see and do. We look forward to re-scheduling the stage programme to happen another night before Christmas."
Deputy Council Leader Peter Smith said: “We know this news will be very disappointing not only to the thousands of spectators who were looking forward to the event but also the performers and special guests taking part. Decisions like this are never taken lightly – a great deal of time and effort goes in to organising the switch-on – but public safety always has to be our number one priority. We are very hopeful that the entertainment will still go ahead in a few weeks’ time.”
Crowds were expected to gather in the city centre for the city's first late-night shopping.
Drake Circus will be turning on its lights tomorrow and there will be lights along the Barbican.
Aspects of the event will continue, including the Christmas market, and the lights will be on - although there will be no switch-on ceremony.
The city centre also features a skate rink and Santa's grotto.
The event was to feature music by Joker and Gaga Unleashed as well as entertainment from Heart and ITV Westcountry.
After heavy rain brought gridlock to the city today - flooding Gdynia Way and other major routes - more rain and high winds are forecast for tomorrow.
Police have advised people to travel only where absolutely necessary - buses and trains were badly duisrupted today and face the proepect of more disruption tomorrow.
The Environment Agency and Met Office have both issued weather and flood warnings for the region.
The 2012 Winter Festival will see Plymouth Waterfront Partnership teaming up with Plymouth City Centre Company to organise events and entertainment across the city. New additions to the Winter Festival on the waterfront include weekly Christmas Farmers’ Markets at West Pier, starting on Saturday 24 November, a late night shopping evening on the Barbican on Wednesday 12 December and a shop window trail for families to follow throughout December
Plymouth’s Winter Festival countdown to Christmas will continue throughout December, with a packed line up of events and entertainment taking place across the city.
City centre late night shopping continues every Thursday, Santa’s Grotto and the Christmas Markets remain open until Christmas Eve, and the winter ice rink is open daily for regular skating sessions, lessons and private bookings.
On Thursday 6 December, the Twinkling Twilight Lantern Parade will wind its way along the city streets, with 300 local school children showing off their handmade lanterns, led by Santa himself in a reindeer-drawn sled.
There is also aline up of festive shows at Plymouth’s entertainment venues, with The Greatest Story Never Told at the Barbican Theatre, Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal and Cinderella on Ice at Plymouth Pavilions.