THOUSANDS of X Factor fans passed up on their favourite TV show to see the real thing in St Helens town centre on Saturday night.
Rainford teenager Bradley Johnson – who featured in this year’s talent trawl as part of boy band Nu Vibe – joined teen singing sensation and Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Ronan Parke to switch on the town’s Christmas lights in Victoria Square.
The pair were joined onstage for the switch-on by the Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Tom Hargreaves, council leader Marie Rimmer, deputy leader Barrie Grunewald, Councillor Eric Smith and Saints star Jamie Foster.
“Victoria Square was packed,” said Coun Smith, “and everyone enjoyed what was probably our biggest and best switch-on yet.
“The success of the event underlined our determination to make St Helens town centre a real destination of choice – not just at Christmas but throughout the rest of the year as well.
“We’re pulling out all the stops to support our town centre traders with events like this and hope to see as many people as possible joining us in the weeks and months ahead for a packed programme of entertainment.”
This year’s switch-on was even bigger and brighter than usual – with the addition of the Illumifest lighting and special effects show.
Designed by international lighting artist Andy McKeown, the project also involved pupils from Rainhill High School and Cowley International College.
There were also performances by artists appearing in local pantomines – at the Theatre Royal (Aladdin) and Citadel Arts Centre (Alice in Wonderland), local singer Abbie Daley and urban artists Aquablakk and A Me B.
The St Helens Youth Brass Band and Music Service Choir also performed a host of traditional carols - before the event was brought to a close with a firework finale.
For more information about what’s happening in St Helens, call 01744 675492 or go online at: www.whatsoninsthelens.com
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