Music stars and lockdown heroes lined up for Preston's 'virtual' Christmas Lights Switch On

Preston's Christmas Lights Switch On will take place online this year, with families invited to enjoy the spectacle from the safety and comfort of their homes.

Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 12:22 pm

Things are going to feel a bit different this year, but families can still look forward to all the usual razzmatazz and excitement of the city's annual Christmas lights switch on.

On November 21, a special virtual Switch On will light up the city centre, with the event broadcast live and online at

The Preston Business Improvement District (BID), which organises the annual event, said the festivities will begin at 7pm, with people invited to enjoy the performances from the safety of their homes, before joining in with the all-important countdown.

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Preston's Virtual Christmas Lights Switch On will take place on Saturday, November 21, starting at 7pm

The Switch On will see the city’s main shopping district, including Fishergate and Friargate, lit up as part of a scheme financed by the BID, which is funded by contributions from city centre traders.

Organisers are promising some 'special treats' for viewers, including special Switch On sets from M People star Heather Small and 70s soul band The Real Thing.

BID’s Mark Whittle said the city’s Christmas celebrations will be "a scaled down affair this year", but he says families can still enjoy the annual Switch On by watching the event online in front of their Smart TV, laptop or smartphone.

He said: "This year has been challenging for everyone for so many reasons and we did not want Preston to have to sacrifice marking this event, which many people look forward to.

To enjoy the lights switch on show, visit from 7pm on Saturday, November 21

"It is going to be a scaled down affair this year, for obvious reasons, and hosted online. However, we hope people will join us for a look back at some great switch on performances, new performances, and some very special Christmas messages."

The celebration will be sponsored by Walker & Williams Boutique Hotels, which operates The No.10 and Winckley Square hotels in the city centre, and supported by Smooth Radio North West, as well as the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

Max Walker Williams, the proprietor of Walker & Williams, said: "We're extremely proud to support Preston's virtual Christmas lights switch on, although this year has been challenging, it’s important that, as a family, we can enjoy watching the switch on from the comfort of our own homes.

"We understand that a virtual light switch on is not ideal but the only safe alternative is to do nothing and we simply aren't letting COVID win.''

Crowds enjoying the Lights Switch On in Preston during last Christmas. Celebrations will be "a scaled down affair this year", say its organisers, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

The virtual ceremony will conclude with the countdown and switch on performed by the winners of the BID’s ‘Pride of Preston’ competition, Justine Brooks and Marcus Wright.

The competition has sought out community heroes from across the city who have gone the extra mile to support those in need with their voluntary work during the pandemic.

Competition winner and community hero Justine Brooks has raised a significant amount of money for FareShare to help feed those in need in her community.

She will be joined by Marcus who has helped boost people's mental and physical health by staging free online exercise classes during the coroanvirus crisis.

There will also be interactive songs and dances for children, performances from local musicians and special messages from famous faces.

And children can look forward to a very special appearance from Father Christmas, who will be visiting Preston to enjoy the Switch On celebrations himself.

To enjoy the lights switch on show, visit from 7pm on Saturday, November 21.

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