Over 20,000 soggy spectators packed into Albert Square for the start of this annual event
Manchester’s countdown to Christmas has begun; as the 4th November saw huge crowds gather around the Town Hall and Albert Square for the Christmas Light Switch on and an evening of live entertainment.
Headlined by last year’s X factor winner, 18-year-old Louisa Johnson – who also was invited to flick the switch – this was an interactive event starting from 7.30pm, with the persistent rain making it all-the-more Mancunian.
Key 103’s DJ Mike Toolan and Coronation Street’s Brooke Vincent took to the specially-designed stage as hosts, looking out across a tight-packed audience – which quickly came a sea of umbrellas, but with plenty of spirit.
The Lord Mayor expressed his enthusiasm for the event; and it was even implied that he’d been learning a few steps from the cast of the smash-hit musical ‘Billy Elliot’ – which is coming to Manchester’s Palace Theatre later this month after 10 years in London.
For this was a celebration not just of Manchester’s bright lights (Santa on top of the town hall has at least 100,000 bulbs) but bright sparks – as the celebrations opened with local dance troupe Dancehouse Academy.
Also featured in the evening was a specially-designed video produced by Humanity Hallows; the Manchester Met Student Media Team. The filmmaking team had been invited by the Lord Mayor to the town hall on Saturday morning and made the film in an impressive three days.
Other performers included MOBO nominees M.O and pop group District 12, as well as Louisa Johnson herself.
Local talent was championed also as John Thomson, star of Cold Feet, came to discuss his upcoming role as ‘Abanazar’ in Aladdin at Manchester Opera House. Performers from the Royal Exchange’s festive show Sweet Charity were also in attendance, along with Middleton soul star JP Cooper.
All these acts were building towards the biggest hit of the night – the light turn on itself. Louisa was joined by a series of media stars including comedian Paddy McGuiness, flicking the switch which set the lights shining.
There was massive applause from the audience, followed by a firework display; proof that no amount of rain can dampen Manchester’s talent or spirits. Christmas here we come – and remember, The Christmas markets are coming next, open from Thursday 10th November.