Christmas light switch on spectacular

Ronan Parke
Ronan Parke

BRITAIN’S Got Talent runner-up Ronan Parke headlined a spectacular Christmas light switch-on in Victoria Square this Saturday (November 19).

And joining the teen singing sensation on stage, along with Mayor of St Helens Councillor Tom Hargreaves, was Rainford teenager Bradley Johnson - who delighted millions of X Factor fans as part of boy band Nu Vibe.

There was also be a guest appearance by Saints star Jamie Foster, who took part in a live onstage interview.

The switch-on got underwayat 4pm and included a fun-packed seasonal programme featuring stars from the borough’s two pantomimes, Aladdin (Theatre Royal) and Alice in Wonderland (The Citadel).

There was also performances from local singer Abbie Daley, urban artists Aquablakk and A Me B and popular street dancer Gingerbread Man.

The St Helens Youth Brass Band and Music Service Choir also performed a host of traditional carols before the event ends with a firework finale.

And, new for 2011, the Illumifest lighting and special effects was also on show.

Designed by international lighting artist Andy McKeown, the project has also involved pupils from Cowley and Rainhill High.

The event also introduced ‘Tinsel’ the cheeky elf – who will be making appearances in the town centre between 21 November and 16 December.

Spot Tinsel in a town centre store, complete a special form at participating retailers and you could win a share of £2,000 worth of prizes!

Visitors were also able to see the town centre’s two new 35ft Christmas trees. Victoria Square’s traditional specimen boasts elegant lights and is decorated to complement the town hall and surrounding buildings.

And, over in Church Square, the emphasis is on commercial to reflect the retail surroundings – with tree decorations shaped to represent presents, stockings, stars and sweets.

Deputy leader of St Helens Council, Councillor Barrie Grunewald, said: “Our Christmas programme is the best yet – we’re determined to give our residents some festive cheer!

“The switch-on is a launch pad for our superb Christmas events programme which will give everyone something to enjoy.”

The programme continues on Saturday, November 26, when popular CBeebies characters Zingzillas bring their own brand of music entertainment to a free children’s show in the Parish Church.

A European Christmas Market will be in Church Street and Church Square from Friday 18 November to Saturday 10 December, while the children’s lantern parade makes it way through the town centre on the evening of Thursday 8 December.

Festive street entertainment on Saturday, December 10, includes balloon-modelling elves and stilt walking Jacks of Frost, while a visit from Father Christmas and his (real) reindeer on Saturday, December 17, (both in Church Square) are sure to put smiles on plenty of faces.

For more information about what’s happening in St Helens, or about free festive parking, go to www.whatsoninsthelens.com or telephone 01744 673488.