Christmas 2015: Big Switch On, ‘Frozen’ and Sound of Light

A section of the crowd from the Christmas Lights Switch On back in 2012. Thousands are again expected at this year's Big Switch On and launch of the 2015 Derry festivities. (PIc Inpresspics.com.)

A section of the crowd from the Christmas Lights Switch On back in 2012. Thousands are again expected at this year's Big Switch On and launch of the 2015 Derry festivities. (PIc Inpresspics.com.)

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Details of the Christmas programme for Derry and Strabane have been revealed, with the Big Switch On and a Sound of Light Festival on the City Walls among the highlights.

The outline programme was delivered before Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Business and Culture Committee at their October meeting in Strabane on Tuesday, with a budget of £50,000 for developing and marketing the celebrations agreed.

The council said over 40 venues will host a range of events involved the local authority, community and other sectors and the council has set itself a target of attracting 60,000 people attending the Christmas festivities.

Santa will be back in Guildhall Square for the Big Christmas Lights Switch On on Thursday, November 19.

A three-day Sound of Light Festival will also get under way on November 27.

The programme will officially start during Fashion Fest, which takes place from November 12 to 15, with a Craft Fair inside the Guildhall from Friday to Sunday November 13 to 15.

A three-day Festive Market with 20 traders in wooden chalets will be staged at Guildhall Square from Friday to Sunday, November 27 to 29.

There will also be Christmas Tea Dances at the Guildhall on Wednesday December 2.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane Elisha McCallion is planning to host a ‘Mayor’s Welcome’ and a ‘Mayor’s Christmas Concert’ in the Guildhall on Saturday, December 19.

A Community Christmas event- details of which are being finalised- will be held at Guildhall Square on the weekend before Christmas, Saturday to Sunday December 19 to 20.

There is a going to be an array of markets instead of just one.

Patricia Logue, Derry City Sinn Fein Councillor.

There will also be two Festive Weekends staged at the Craft Village by the Inner City Trust and Derry City Council from Friday to Sunday December 10th to 12, and again Friday to Sunday December 18th to 20th.

Strabane events will include a ‘Frozen Bus Tour’ in the town centre, Santa’s Grotto in the Alley Courtyard as well as a Christmas craft fair,a Santa Parade and Santa On The Run events.

Linda Williams, the Council’s Head of Economic Development and Marketing, said that they had decided to invest money in the actual programme “rather than bringing somebody whose rich and famous for 20 minutes and then leaves” for events such as the Switch On.

Welcoming the programme, SDLP Councillor John Boyle said he imagined there would be children who would wish to come from Derry to Strabane for events such as the Frozen themed ones, and also people who wished to travel from Strabane to Derry, for the celebrations.

He also questioned whether the council could not organise events in the final days before Christmas, as the programme seemed to end the weekend before.

“That would be a bit of a concern for me,” he said. “Even when we did do the Christmas markets they did close that wee bit early.”

He added that the busiest days of all in the town were those just before Christmas, “but all of a sudden we weren’t in a Winter Wonderland any more”.

Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue welcomed the additional involvement in the markets from the private and community sectors “and that there is a going to be an array of markets instead of just one”.

Ms Williams said they would look at additional events in the days just before Christmas, which this year falls on a Friday.

Last year saw 52,000 attending Christmas events.