An enchanting programme of festive activity is heading for Chester with the popular Christmas lights switch on parade marking the start of the holiday season in the city centre.
Planned by Chester’s Business Improvement District, CH1ChesterBID, in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council, the annual lights-switch on this year will take place on Friday, November 16 – a change from the traditional Thursday night slot.
Created to once again capture the imagination of children and adults alike, the parade will be themed as ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and will wind its way through the city centre from 7pm.
Starting from Chester Town Hall, chELFie, ELFie and their elf friends will lead the parade followed by a range of local community groups and artists to entertain onlookers and represent the 12 days of Christmas.
A snow machine scattering snowflakes from Santa’s sleigh can also be seen at the beginning of the parade and at key points across the route.
Children will also have the opportunity to meet Chester’s much-loved Christmas elves ChELFie and ELFie who will be giving out special holographic Christmas glasses, which are back by popular demand.
The free glasses will help bring to life the light displays, transforming any Christmas LED lights into snowmen, stars, trees, gift boxes and Father Christmas himself.
The loveable elves will also spread festive cheer and help children to spot Santa who will appear on rooftops at five different points during the parade. To add to the magical atmosphere, a live brass band will lead the festive procession, performing popular Christmas carols and songs.
From Chester Town Hall, the parade heads towards St Werburgh Street passed Chester Cathedral, down to Eastgate Street, Bridge Street and around the city centre. Pyrotechnics will also be set off during the parade at Chester Cathedral, Eastgate Clock and The Cross. There will be a firework display at the Amphitheatre and one final show of pyrotechnics at Town Hall.
As part of this year’s celebrations, Chester will also be welcoming back the striking ‘CheSTAR’, which will once again be on display in the grounds of Chester Cathedral on St Werburgh Street. Comprised of almost 19,000 majestic lights, the 25ft structure has become a much-loved part of Chester’s decorative festive theme since being introduced by CH1ChesterBID back in 2016.
Emily Ghazarian, Events Manager at CH1ChesterBID, said: “The annual Christmas lights switch-on parade really does launch a fantastic period of festive celebration in Chester city centre. It’s always an exciting family occasion, with spectators both young and old marveling at the decorations, fireworks and Christmas characters.
“On behalf of our businesses, we aim to make sure Christmas in Chester is something not to be missed. We spend months working with local partners and developing activities and events that will benefit our city centre retailers and encourage visitors into the city.
“Our aim is to always create memorable occasions and give people more reasons to come into the city. Activities such as our free Christmas film screenings and Storytelling with Santa sessions bring this time of year to life for so many families in the North West, and that really is what Christmas is all about.”
Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member Communities and Wellbeing, Cheshire West and Chester Council, added: “For the first time in years, we’ve moved the Christmas launch to a Friday to accommodate the Armistice Day activities, which will be taking place in the city earlier in the week, marking the centenary of the end of World War I.
“The change will make a wonderful way to start a weekend though and kick-start a magnificent programme of Christmas activities.
“Thousands of people always descend on the city centre for the lights switch-on and we’re urging people to set off early to get themselves a good spot. We also want to remind people not to forget that Father Christmas will be making an appearance in several locations – one of the best viewing spots is actually at the Amphitheatre where little ones will really be able to catch a glimpse of him as well as a fireworks display.
“Chester is truly magical at this time of year and we hope this Christmas again offers something very special for both residents and visitors.”
Chester’s Christmas Market will also be back in the heart of Chester from November 16 – December 22, with more than 70 traditional wooden chalets situated in the city centre selling quality local and regional products.
For more information about all the events and activities taking place this Christmas, visit www.experiencechester.co.uk or search ‘CH1ChesterBID’ on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.