Nottingham will celebrate the beginning of the festive season at the annual Christmas Lights switch-on event, on Thursday 24 November in Old Market Square.
Entertainment will kick off at 5.30pm in the Square, with the big switch-on taking place at 6.31pm and the fun wrapping up at 7.45pm. A brass band will play Christmas classics at a stage close to the Brian Clough statue, and presenters Dino and Pete from Capital FM will be entertaining the crowds with their special blend of humour, fun and songs to get everyone in the festive spirit.
Gold medal winning Paralympians Ollie Hynd and Charlotte Henshaw will switch on the lights, along with the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Mohammed Saghir, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Jackie Morris, and Nottingham’s official Robin Hood, Tim Pollard.
Ollie and Charlotte, both from Mansfield, train at the new Harvey Hadden Sports Village, which was revamped with a £13.5m transformation, re-opening to the public in September 2015.
The 50m swimming pool enables local Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls like Ollie and Charlotte, as well as other top athletes, to train at the centre.
Charlotte secured a bronze medal for Great Britain in the 100m breast-stroke at the Rio Paralympic games, and Ollie won a gold medal in the 400m freestyle, setting a new world record.
In 2015, Nottingham pledged to become a top city for disability sport. Nottingham leisure centres are equipped to allow disabled people to take part in a wide range of sports, and Nottingham was one of three cities selected to host events for National Paralympic Day on 25 July.
The NET Winter Wonderland will open on Saturday 19 November, running until Sunday 8 January. Nottingham’s first Ice Bar is set to be a big draw for visitors, with tickets already selling fast.
During the Christmas lights switch-on event on Thursday 24 November, a one way system and controlled zone for pedestrians will be in operation to ensure that the event is safe and fun for everyone.
For those who normally walk through the Old Market Square after work, that means they’ll need to walk around, via Beastmarket Hill (outside Burton/The Bank) or via High Street (outside Zara/Pret a Manger), not through the Square.
Pedestrians will only be able to enter the Winter Wonderland through one entrance gate on Long Row (Debenhams end). Stewards will manage the numbers of people who are inside the Winter Wonderland – once the capacity is reached, no more people will be admitted to the Winter Wonderland area.
Stewards will also control the area around the Brian Clough statue, shutting off access to come into the area once it is full. Once these areas are full, crowds are asked to stand in the recommended viewing areas along South Parade, Beastmarket Hill and at the back of the fountains. Trams will stop running from around 6pm until 7pm to allow pedestrians to stand here safely.
Trams will run as normal before and after the event, but due to the high numbers of people expected, police have advised that tram services through Old Market Square should be halted for an hour from 6pm whilst the lights switch-on takes place.
During this time, trams from Hucknall and Phoenix Park will turn at Royal Centre, whilst trams from Clifton and Toton Lane will turn at Nottingham Station. NCT will accept tram tickets on their city loop and 48 bus services to help customers complete cross-city journeys until trams are able to run through Old Market Square again at approximately 7pm.
Ollie Hynd said: “We’re truly proud to be from such a great sporting county and city, so switching on the Nottingham Christmas lights is a huge honour.”
Charlotte Henshaw said: “We can’t wait to go out into Nottingham and share our success in Rio with everyone, it will be a great night!”
Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council, said: “Charlotte and Olly are fantastic role models and Nottingham is incredibly proud of them. I know the whole city will join me in welcoming the opportunity to congratulate them for their amazing achievements.”
NET said: Stephanie Moss-Pearce, Assistant Marketing Manager at NET, explained: “The Christmas Lights switch-on is always a very popular event and it’ll be made even more special with the chance to congratulate Ollie and Charlotte on their Paralympic success.
“Our £5 Group Ticket will be available from 4pm on the day, which offers fantastic savings and unlimited tram travel for one or two adults and up to three kids. With a stop on the event’s doorstep, free park & ride sites and direct cross-city services from every seven minutes, the tram provides the best way for families and friends to travel to Old Market Square and join in the festive fun!”
Christmas Lights Switch – On Programme
Approx. 5pm: Controlled zone for pedestrians comes into force (see below map)
5.30pm – 6.15pm: Top Brass Ensemble plays Christmas classics on the Brian Clough Statue Stage
6 – 6:25pm: Capital FM roadshow broadcasts live from the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink
Approx. 6 – 7pm: Trams stop running through the Old Market Square, allowing people to stand on the tram tracks to watch the lights switch on
6:25pm: Live to the Council House balcony to introduce the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Nottingham, plus the special Paralympic guests
6:31pm: Nottingham Christmas lights are switched on; also broadcast live on Notts TV and through Facebook Live by What’s On in Nottingham
Approx. 6:32 – 6:42pm: Fireworks Display from Council House roof – weather conditions permitting
7 – 7.45pm: Top Brass Ensemble plays Christmas classics on the Brian Clough Statue Stage
Approx. 7pm: Trams begin running from Old Market Square again
Around the Old Market Square: Santa and his elves, from the intu Broadmarsh grotto will be meeting the crowds