15,000 expected at Christmas Lights Switch On

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News release: 14 November 2017

The Christmas lights in St Albans will be turned on at three locations this year so that everyone can enjoy the action.

Xmas lights 2016
Children’s TV star Phil “Mister Maker” Gallagher will be among the stars from the Alban Arena pantomime to lead the countdown on the main stage opposite Beech House.

Simultaneously, lights will also be turned on at two other locations: the Clock Tower and Vintry Gardens where the annual Christmas Market is held.

Around 15,000 people are expected at the family event with the City Centre being closed to traffic and turned into a winter wonderland.

Among the attractions will be a funfair, free activities for children and a live music stage featuring a host of local acts.

There will also be 70 stalls selling gifts as well as a wide range of food and drink products such as hand-made chocolates and artisan cheeses. 

The event starts at noon on Sunday 26 November with the switch on at 5pm and the festive street party finishing at 6pm.

One new feature will be state-of-the-art lights, funded by local businesses, which have been put on three dozen trees that line both sides of St Peter’s Street.

TV presenter Phil will be joined by other members of the panto cast from the Arena’s production of Aladdin.

Among the line-up is actor Karl Howman, who played Buster Briggs in EastEnders, and comedian Bob Golding, famous for his Eric Morecambe impersonations.

Mayor of St Albans City and District, Councillor Mohammad Iqbal Zia, will take part in the switch-on at the Clock Tower. 

Xmas lights advert
The event has been organised by St Albans City and District Council’s Community Engagement team.

The recently-formed St Albans Business Improvement District (BID) has paid for the new tree lights that run from the Town Hall to the Cock Pub. It has also financed new infrastructure to provide power to them.

BID - a not-for-profit organisation funded by local businesses – seeks to improve the City Centre.

BID Manager Helen Burridge said: “The new lights are fantastic decorations which are going to attract even more visitors to the City Centre over the Christmas period and for years to come. 

“Look out for a surprise later in December . . . the lights are not all that they seem.

“In future years, we will be investing in a bespoke festive display for the whole City Centre and will make further infrastructure improvements, too.”

Councillor Beric Read, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Business and the Community, said: “I welcome the involvement of St Albans BID this year and share their excitement about their new lights. 

“The Christmas lights switch-on is one of the most popular City Centre events of the year. It comes the day after the Christmas Market opens to get the festive season in St Albans off to a champagne start.”

Among the highlights are:

• Children’s activities: face painting, a giant snow globe, Santa’s Grotto and a Christmas bauble workshop.
• Fun fair: rides and games for the whole family to enjoy outside the Town Hall museum, Chequer Street and Victoria Street plus a few by the Clock Tower. Prices and height restrictions apply.
• Main Stage: this is located at the taxi rank opposite the Beech House. There will be a great line-up of live entertainment from noon to 6pm from musicians and community groups including The Big Sing Choir, Excel Dance, Mamas with Voices, The Purple Allstars, The Zipheads, Hurst Children’s Theatre Group, Ollie Bannister and Bob Halford.
• Clock Tower: a host of street artists including fire jugglers will be performing throughout the day.
• Stalls – around 70 traders will be working in St Peter’s Street selling a wonderful selection of gifts as well as food and drink products. This will be in addition to the chalets at the Christmas Market which opens on Saturday 25 November and runs to Saturday 23 December.

Community station 92.6FM Radio Verulam will broadcast aspects of the event and compere from the main stage.

For more details, please see: www.enjoystalbans.com.

Aladdin opens at the Alban Arena on Thursday 7 December and runs until Sunday 7 January 2018. For more details, see www.alban-arena.co.uk/events/aladdin/

Councillor contact:
Councillor Beric Read, Portfolio Holder for Business and the Community for St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 07956 220264; e-mail: Cllr.B.Read@stalbans.gov.uk  
Contact for the media: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City & District Council 
Tel: 01727 296130; e-mail: john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk