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Bumper weekend expected in Lancaster for Christmas Lights Switch On and ice rink launch

The Big Wheel pictured on Wednesday night ahead of Lancaster On Ice's opening on Saturday. Image by Josh Brandwood

Lancaster is gearing up for a bumper weekend as the city's Christmas lights are switched on and its popular outdoor ice rink and Big Wheel opens to the public.

This Sunday (November 26) sees the Christmas Lights Switchon in Market Square with an afternoon of free live entertainment for all the family.

Lancaster On Ice also opens this Saturday (November 25).

Tony Johnson, Lancaster BID manager, said “We’re looking forward to seeing Market Square packed out once again for the official launch of Christmas in Lancaster.

"With a packed show this weekend, the launch of Lancaster On Ice and numerous festive events throughout the city, there is no better time to be supporting local businesses.

"Lancaster has so much to offer so we’re reminding everyone to Love Local, Love Lancaster this Christmas."

The Switch On stage show is organised by Lancaster BID, supported by Lancaster University and hosted by Beyond Radio.

Read more: Lancaster Christmas Lights Switch On: Full line-up and stage times - Beyond Radio

There will be a packed line up of local bands leading up to the headline act Toploader (pictured below), famed for their hit 'Dancing in the Moonlight'.

Supporting acts include The Singing Sisters - Gabriella & Jasmine, The Manfredis, Give It Some, C & C Entertainments as well as The Dukes Christmas show cast, the Lancaster Grand panto cast, Laura Sandham School of Dance and The Performance Studios taking to the stage to entertain the crowds.

CancerCare's Santa Dash also returns to the city centre this Sunday with samba drummers Samba Espirito and of course Santa will be there himself to help with the much-anticipated countdown.

The weekend also marks the launch of Lancaster On Ice with Dalton Square transformed into a magical winter wonderland with sessions available to book throughout the festive season.

The outdoor ice skating rink will be open from November 25 to January 7 2024.

A giant Ferris Wheel ride will also be returning as part of this year's festivities.

Lancaster On Ice was founded by Hannah and Martin Horner, who run the nearby pub The Borough.

The first Lancaster On Ice was held in 2018, it won the Lancashire Tourism Awards ‘Large Event Award’ in 2019 and was nominated as one of the best ice-rinks in the UK and Europe by the national Guardian Newspaper,

Last year's event attracted more than 100,000 people.

Tickets are on sale here. 

This weekend is just the start of a fun-filled festive season in Lancaster city centre.

The Cairngorm Reindeer and Father Christmas will be visiting St Nic’s Arcade for Reindeer Day on Sunday December 3.

You can also explore the city centre searching out the 12 festive reindeer beautifully decorated by local primary school children.

They will be hiding in the windows of city centre businesses from November 25 until January 1.

Find them all to enter the prize draw to win £100 to spend in St Nicholas Arcades plus a special bonus draw if you find the name of the lucky 13th reindeer.

Throughout the festive season, Lancaster BID is also encouraging the local community to come together to support children who are less fortunate.

The Toy Appeal,  sponsored by Travellers Choice, invites you to drop new or nearly new unwrapped toys at various businesses around the city centre. These will be donated to local charities to make sure that children who might miss out can get to enjoy Christmas this year.

For full details of all these events and more, pick up a copy of the ‘Love Christmas Love Lancaster’ booklet from businesses across the city centre or being handed out at the Christmas Lights Switch On.

The booklet also has details of free Christmas parking on Sundays and Thursday evenings through December, listings for Christmas shows and events across the city centre and an entry form for the Reindeer Trail.

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