Mrs Claus to join Santa tonight

The city’s festive celebrations kick off tonight, Wednesday, with the official Switch On of the city’s Christmas Lights.

Santa will be there with the help and support of his good wife, Mrs Claus to do the honours of the turning on the lights, which is one of the highlights of the city’s events calendar, is a hugely successful occasion attracting thousands of families keen to get into the Christmas period and enjoy some festive time in the city.

The celebrations will take place in Guildhall Square with music from Paddy Nash and the Happy Enchiladas and BBC’s Mark Patterson will be MC on the night.

Mayor Kevin Campbell said he was looking forward to the event as it was one of the most popular family occasions with everyone coming along and getting into the spirit of Christmas: “The Big Switch On is a fantastic event. It’s a great opportunity for families to come into the city centre, meet Santa and soak up the great festive atmosphere and have some fun. It is also a chance for us to promote the city as a good place to come and do some Christmas shopping and take part in our festive events. Let’s hope this Christmas period is a good time for local retailers and businesses and that we create a real buzz in the city as we prepare for the start of 2013 and the huge opportunities that exist with City of Culture.”

For the first time next month the Council will host the Christmas Market in Guildhall Square when it will become the centre piece of festive activities from December 1 to 22,when shoppers will be able to sample the enchanting atmosphere of the European winter markets on their doorstep.

Event organiser, Elaine Griffin said the Switch On was just one of the highlights of the city’s social calendar and a great family friendly occasion: “Every year the Switch On attracts huge crowds and it’s a really great family friendly event. The Guildhall Square comes alive with festive cheer and when Santa arrives the atmosphere is amazing. We have a full line up of musical entertainment organised for the evening for all the family. The Switch On marks the start of a range of festive events for visitors and residents in the city in the run up to Christmas and actively encourages people from outside the city to Make a Date with Derry this Christmas.”

She added that each year the event is increasing in popularity and those planning on coming to the event are advised to arrive early and plan their journey in advance as there will be some restrictions on the night with restricted access to Waterloo Place and Guildhall Square.

Family entertainment on the night will run from 6.30pm to 8pm with the official Big Switch-On taking place at 7.30pm.

Further information is available on Derry City Council’s website, or by contacting the Festivals Office on 028 7136 7545.