The Christmas Lights Switch On

Forget the John Lewis ad. The Switch On will make you feel more Christmassy than your pervy uncle in a Santa costume.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 16 November 2012

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The Christmas Lights Switch On is a strange tradition across our nation. Nobody really stops to think that it’s a variety show staged around the flick of a switch. But somehow there’s something magical about it.

Maybe we could all learn from adding a bit of theatre to turning on the ‘big light’ in our own living rooms. Personally, I’m thinking of hiring a D-List local celebrity (in my case, Adam from this year’s The Apprentice) to wait patiently in the dark of my kitchen just in case I get up for a glass of water in the night. I’d creep downstairs, reach for the switch and then a Santa-hat-wearing Adam would spring to life to introduce Rhydian’s performance of ‘The Impossible Dream’ staged next to my fridge.

It sounds ridiculous, but in Manchester’s Albert Square, it works. And this year, the festivities were helped along by a veritable feast of all-singing, all-dancing family-friendly talent. Misha B and The Wanted brought the glamour, whilst cast members from hit Christmas theatre productions (Peter Pan and Arabian Nights) brought the glitz. There was also CBBC characters for the kiddiewinks and a nearby Tesco selling hide-in-your-handbag sized bottles of wine for the adults.

The Christmas Lights Switch On started at 6.45pm on Friday 9th November and finished at 8pm after a cracking fireworks display over the town hall. I like to play a little game called ‘Will one of the sparks ignite the listed building that has overseen our fair city for centuries?’, it didn’t.

It was heaving and packed with people wrapped up as brightly as their Christmas presents, but as long as you embraced getting hit in the face with fluffy bobble hats, it was a great atmosphere.

Here’s some snaps of people singing and talking.

Images by Terry Bouch