23 November 2015

Around 35,000 people packed into Sheffield city centre yesterday (Sunday 22 November) to watch champion fundraiser John Burkhill flick the switch on this year’s Christmas lights.

Mr Burkhill took to the Peace Gardens stage to turn the lights on with pop band Stooshe; singer-songwriter Lucy Spraggan; the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Talib Hussain; stars of this year’s Sheffield Theatres pantomime including Damian Williams and CBeebies’ Alex Winters; presenters from Heart and Father Christmas.

After the crowd – watching in the Peace Gardens and also on a giant screen in Pinstone Street – counted down to zero, the switch was flicked and the city centre was bathed in twinkling light.

Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said: “The big switch-on is always a fantastic event for families, and this year was no exception.

“From the live nativity scene on the Moor through to the fairy grotto in the Winter Garden and vintage emergency vehicles in Barkers Pool, there really was something for everybody.

“Thank you to everyone who braved the cold to show some festive spirit. And please continue to enjoy the Christmas markets along Fargate, along with all that the city centre has to offer, in the run-up to 25 December.”

Yesterday’s event involved attractions across the city centre such as a live Nativity, reindeer from Mayfield Alpacas, vintage vehicles from the National Emergency Services Museum, carol singing, children’s character walkabouts, snow machines, fairground rides, entertainers including the Big Bubble Man and a fairy grotto in the Winter Garden.

The entertainment programme in the Peace Gardens kicked off with Sheffield’s own Caroline Frances at 2.30pm and included choirs, dancers and a performance from Lucy Spraggan, before the lights were switched on at 5.30pm.

Stooshe, best known for their Top 10 single “Black Heart”, then finished off the event with a show that included covers of well-known Christmas tunes.

Now that the lights have been switched on, the festive feeling will continue right up until Christmas with the Christmas markets and Sleigh Bar on Fargate.

As well as traders from across the UK and Europe selling a variety of gifts, jewellery, crafts, the Christmas market includes a huge range of refreshment stalls selling hot food and drinks.

Housed in traditional wooden huts, the Christmas market runs from 10am to 6pm daily, and will also be open for late-night shopping until 8pm each Wednesday in December.