The Christmas festivities in Nottingham will start in style on Friday 20 November – with the honour of switching on the lights going to a trio of community-spirited youngsters.

The lights switch on will mark the official opening of this year’s Winter Wonderland. The Old Market Square will be covered in lights and decorations, as well as the traditional festive market which will offer a fantastic range of gifts and food and drink.

The traditional ice rink will be back in the Square, with skaters able to admire the magnificent 60ft Christmas tree at the centre of the rink. The rink will be surrounded by hundreds of smaller Christmas trees along timber-decked walkways between Victorian-style buildings which will host food, gift and craft stalls.

Entertainment on Friday 20 November will kick off at 5pm in the Square, with the big switch on taking place at 6.25pm. Visitors and families can enjoy meeting street performers including elves and talking Christmas presents, with activities wrapping up at 8pm.

From 6pm, presenters Sam and Amy from Gem 106 will be entertaining the crowds with their special blend of humour, festive fun and songs to get everyone in the Christmas mood.

This year, three schoolboys from the Arboretum will help to switch on the lights.  Joshua Piper, 12, Xander Richards, 10 and Omari Njai, 9 were singled out for the honour after a local resident praised the boys for helping keep their local playground in Coleville Street clean and tidy.

The boys were praised as fantastic examples of ‘clean champions’ – setting a great example for others and encouraging other members of their community to do their bit to keep Nottingham clean too.

They’ll be joined by John Elkington, the panto dame from the Nottingham Playhouse festive production of Dick Whittington, the story of a boy country lad who sets out into the big wide world to seek his fortune, along with his amazing rat-catching cat. But are the city streets really paved with gold? And is the path to happily-ever-after ever an easy one? Kenneth Alan Taylor returns to direct the legendary Nottingham Playhouse panto – with glittering scenery, fabulous frocks and mesmerising musical numbers, Dick Whittington is a whirlwind adventure for all the family.

Nottingham’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Jackie Morris, and the Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Mohammed Saghir, will be on the Council House balcony to switch on the lights too, and Nottingham’s Robin Hood, Tim Pollard, will also be in attendance.

Once the lights are switched on, the crowds can also enjoy classic Christmas songs by Southwell Minster Choir, who will perform from 6.30pm – 7.30pm.

Friday marks the start of a festive themed weekend as intu Broadmarsh open their 5D Santa’s Grotto, and hold a family fun day on Saturday 21 November.

Councillor David Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “Seeing Nottingham transformed for the festive season is always a special and magical moment in the annual event calendar.

“I’m proud that we’ve chosen a civic-minded group of young people to help us switch on the lights this year. Joshua and his friends are a fantastic example of people striving to make their local area better for everyone and we hope they will inspire others.”

Lee Clarke, Event Planning Manager at the Mellors Group, said: “We’re proud to be able to put on one of the best festive markets in the country for Nottingham, at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Highlights of the Christmas Wonderland experience include:

  • The fun of ice skating – Get in the festive spirit with a skate at our outdoor ice rink with family and friends. Book online at
  • The Christmas craft and gift market – a bigger, better market with unique gifts and beautiful Christmas decorations – there is plenty of choice to find that perfect present
  •  Winter Bar – The Bar has great views of the new bandstand where super seasonal music will be performed.  Sup your favourite bevy or a soft drink whilst enjoying the comfort of the cosy covered seating area
  •  The truly unique Helter Skelter Bar – The world’s only Helter Skelter Bar will sell mulled wine, and hot toddies to keep you aglow as you take a break from your Christmas shopping
  •  Grand Christmas treeThe traditional Christmas tree will be the fantastic centrepiece of the ice rink – the Square just wouldn’t be complete without it!
  •  Rides for children – there will be rides including the helter skelter, a traditional carousel and Santa’s Snowmen to keep children happy.

 For further details about the Winter Wonderland and other Christmas events taking place this year, visit

The Winter Wonderland is sponsored by NET trams and is delivered in a partnership between Nottingham City Council and the Mellors Group. The media partner for the event is Gem106.

Full programme for 20 November


GEM 106 roadshow 6.05pm to 6.30pm

Light switch on 6.25pm.


6.30pm – 7.30pm     Southwell Minster Choir


Creature Encounter presents The Winterbottoms

Presenting the esteemed but diminutive Major Wilfred Winterbottom, the giant Lady Uphemia Winterbottom and their little urchin Baby Snowflake.  With his business interests in the far north failing and his assets frozen, the Major has hit the sherry!

Times:           5.00 – 5.30    6.30 – 7.00    7.30 – 8.00.

Bread and Butter Theatre presents The Elves Christmas Switch On

Bread and Butter bring the magic of a Christmas lights switch on direct to you.  Our oversized dancing elves will give everyone the chance to lead the countdown to the magical moment when a thousand twinkling fairy lights illuminate the snow-tipped Christmas tree.

Times:           5.15 – 5.55    6.45 – 7.25    7.45 – 8.25.

Maynard Flip Flap presents the Man in a Christmas Present

This present will follow you home … if it likes you!  It responds to the human voice and scuttles around looking for festive cheer

Times:           5.30 – 6.00    7.00 – 7.30    8.00 – 8.30.