Lancaster braced for biggest switch-on ever

Matt Cardle.
Matt Cardle.

Tens of thousands of people will pack into Lancaster city centre this Sunday for the 
biggest and best Christmas lights switch-on yet.

And with organisers planning a big screen on New Street for people who can’t get through the heaving crowds into Market Square, it’s clear attendance could top even last year’s figures.

The 2013 switch-on drew a peak audience in Market Square of 6,000 and 20,000 people throughout the day.

With X Factor stars Matt Cardle and Paul Akister as headline acts and dry weather forecast, shops, pubs and restaurants are bracing themselves for a bumper Sunday’s trade.

The big draws will be Cardle, who beat One Direction to win The X Factor in 2010, and Lancaster soul singer Akister, performing in front of local fans for the first time since being voted off the TV talent show last week.

The lights switch-on itself is due at 5.30pm with a little help from Father Christmas, Matt Cardle and the first child to cross the line in the Santa Dash earlier in the day.

The Bay Radio stage will be set up in Market Square. Hosts Danny Matthews and Darren Milby will introduce the acts performing from 3pm to 8pm.

Also on the bill are boy band Kingsland Road, who reached the X Factor live shows in 2013. Kitty Brucknell, a controversial X Factor contestant from the 2011 series, 1980s party act Black Lace, Britain’s Got Talent finalist Gabz, Bolton-le-Sands singer Amy Jo Clough and Morecambe rock duo Fuse are also on the bill.

Liz Hickingbotham, manager of Lancaster Unlimited who have organised the event with The Bay, said: “We’re really excited about it. We’re expecting more than last year.

“The big screen will b e at the back of the museum so people coming down Market Street can see and hear what’s going on.

“We have plans to make next year even bigger but it’s one step at a time to make sure we’re growing year on year but also ensuring the event is safe each time.”

You can register for the Santa Dash and Reindeer Run, in aid of Cancer Care, at http://www.cancercare.org.uk/santa-dash-2014/ .

The dash starts at 1pm in Market Square. Entry includes a free Santa suit for entrants over 14 and reindeer antlers for under 14s.

The full line-up of acts includes:
Matt Cardle

Paul Akister

Kingsland Road

Gabz

Vanquish

Everyoung

Mr Zip

Black Lace

Amy Jo Clough

Fuse

Hana Joy

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