Thousands turn out for Lancaster's Christmas lights switch on

Crowds braved the cold to watch boy band Five and other stars perform in the city centre as part of the annual lights switch on.

Sunday, 20th November 2016, 7:30 pm
Updated Monday, 21st November 2016, 12:26 pm

The show kicked off in Market Square on Sunday November 20 at 2.30pm, shortly after the Lancaster Santa Dash took place in aid of CancerCare.

Once the running Santa's finished their festive race around the city centre, musicians and dancers began to arrive on The Bay Stage.

A fitting tribute to the late Neil Marshall, a Lancaster City FC captain who passed away earlier this week, was paid near the start of the show.

Local singer Stuart Michaels wore the City legend's football shirt whilst he sang Neil's wedding song to the crowd.

"It was the first time I have ever been nervous on stage," said the Morecambe singer.

"The family asked me if I could perform the wedding song and of course I said yes.

"I am proud I got to do it, I was trying to focus on the song, it was very emotional.

"I played football with him when I was little and he went on to become a great sportsman for the area."

During Stuart's performance a minute round of applause was also held for Neil.

Singer Jack Morlen was next to perform followed by Lancaster soulman Paul Akister.

Paul, who appeared on the X Factor live shows in 2014, has been busy working in America and is keeping tight-lipped about an exciting career announcement.

Speaking shortly before his performance Paul said: "To the people who have supported for me for so long, if you just try and wait a bit longer, I have some big news, I've had a lot of important meetings in America.

"I love the Lancaster switch on, it's my favourite."

Other performances throughout the afternoon included Lancaster's Stagecoach Theatre School, run by Ann-Marie White,Thomas Teago ft Fazer, Marvellous Events, boy band Road Trip.

Lancaster gold medallist, Scott Durant, Father Christmas, pop group Five and other artists arrived on stage at 5pm to switch on the Christmas lights.

Joining them on stage was 10-year-old Rory Woods, from Lancaster and his friends, Corin and Anneika, who all raised the most for CancerCare as part of their Santa Dash.

As the city centre lit up Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville, and Scott Robinson, of Five, took the audience back to the 90s.

The trio sang classics including, Everybody Get Up, When The Lights Go Out, If Ya Gettin Down and more.

In an interview back stage they said: "Most of the fans from the 90s are almost mothers now so when they bring their kids along and they are all singing along it's a good thing to see."

Kevin Simm, BBC'S The Voice 2016 winner and a former Liberty X singer, was next to perform, followed by Oritse Williams, formerly of boy band JLS.

It was the second time Oritse visited the city and was nervous but excited to perform this time as a solo artist.

He said: "I get nervous every time especially now I am by myself but it is exciting.

"I always wonder how the crowd is going to respond but everyone has welcomed me with open arms."

Oritse is in regular contact with his former boy band friends, who all wish him the best in his career as a solo artist.

Lancaster Bombers, a Cumbria band who have a popular following, finished the performances shortly after 6pm.

The event was brought to the city by The Bay together with Lancaster BID - The City's Business Improvement District.

Additional viewing areas were available for the large crowd on large screens at Horseshoe Corner opposite St Nic's Arcade and on New Street behind the Lancaster Museum.

More to come and more pictures to come.