Plymouth's Christmas lights switched on this week
THE countdown to the festive season is well and truly under way with just a few days left until Plymouth is transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland as its Christmas lights are turned on and the Winter Festival begins.
The festival will be launched on Thursday with the Christmas lights switch-on, organised by Plymouth City Centre Company and Plymouth City Council.
Presenters from Heart FM and ITV Westcountry will take to the stage on Cornwall Street from 4pm, to introduce entertainment including performances from the Military Wives Choir, Joker and Gaga Unleashed. Panto star Christopher Biggins joins the Military Wives Choir to turn on the lights at 6.15pm.
The Christmas lights will also be turned on across the Barbican and waterfront, illuminating the whole of Plymouth centre as the festive period begins.
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The Christmas market stalls on the piazza will open for the first time, and shops across the city will stay open until 8pm, for the first week of Thursday late-night shopping.
Families will have their first chance to take children to visit Santa, at his new grotto on Frankfort Gate. The grotto will remain open every day until Christmas
The Plymouth Winter Festival, launched by Plymouth City Centre Company in 2010, aims to attract shoppers from Devon, Cornwall, and the wider South West to take advantage of Plymouth's unique shops and events.
Clint Jones, the Plymouth City Centre manager, said: "The excitement is really building as the Christmas shopping season approaches. The switch-on has been extremely popular in previous years, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the city centre, which provides a great boost to retailers as well as creating a lively and vibrant atmosphere."
This year Plymouth Waterfront Partnership will team up with Plymouth City Centre Company to organise events and entertainment across the city.
Additions to the Winter Festival on the waterfront include a weekly Christmas farmers' market at West Pier, starting on Saturday, November 24, late-night shopping on the Barbican on Wednesday, December 12, and a shop window trail for families to follow throughout December.
In the city centre the ice rink is open daily for regular skating sessions, lessons and private bookings.
On Thursday, December 6 the Twinkling Twilight Lantern Parade will wind its way along the city streets, with 300 local children showing off their handmade lanterns, led by Santa in a reindeer-drawn sled.