Santa, Elsa, Jamie’s Journie and Michael Doherty for Derry’s Big Christmas Switch On

The crowd pictured at the annual Christmas Lights switch on in Derry by Santa back in 2012.
The crowd pictured at the annual Christmas Lights switch on in Derry by Santa back in 2012.

Santa will have have a team of little helpers when he makes his way to Derry for the Big Christmas Lights Switch On this Thursday at 7.15pm.

The finalised programme for the event has just been confirmed, with the festivities kicking off at 6pm and lasting through until 8pm.

The Mayor of Derry and Strabane Elisha McCallion and local children from Jamie’s Journie will be on hand to greet him as he flies in from the North Pole for a magical festive family celebration.

Local star Michael Doherty and Elsa from Frozen will also be taking to the stage for the celebrations alongside DJ Mark Patterson.

Speaking ahead of the event, an excited Mayor McCallion encouraged everyone to come along to give Santa a warm Derry welcome.

“I’m so looking forward to meeting Santa when he pays a special visit to the city this week,” she said.

“I know there will be a great turn out on the night, and plenty of entertainment for all the family to get us in the mood for a lovely Christmas.

“Santa has a very busy schedule at this time of year so it’s fantastic that he is able to take the time out to visit the children of Derry and Strabane, and I hope we will give him a very warm welcome.”

All the fun will be taking place in the Guildhall Square and Waterloo Place with live entertainment and plenty of animation from 6pm.

Mark Patterson will be braving the November cold to warm up the crowds as they wait for Santa’s arrival, with Santa’s favourite band Sensation playing live on stage.

And the spotlight will be on the big man himself as the crowds search for Santa at 7pm before the official Switch On at 7.15pm with the Mayor and children from Jamie’s Journey. The music and fun continues until 8pm.

There will also be plenty of entertainment in Waterloo Place where Michael Doherty will host the Frozen stage in Waterloo Place where the Switch On will be relayed on the Live Screen.

There will be live music and a whole host of colourful characters, including the one and only Elsa from Frozen, who will perform live. And Santa himself will magic his way from the North Pole via Guildhall Square to say hello!

The Enchanted Peace Garden on Foyle Street will also be open to the public from 4pm-8pm. Children will have the opportunity to meet some of their favourite winter characters and have their faces painted ahead of the big Lights Switch On.

While there are no plans to close roads for the Switch On, large crowds are expected on the night and some streets are expected to be highly congested for the duration of the event.

The streets most likely to be impacted on Thursday evening are Shipquay Place, Foyle Street and the Strand Road between Sackville Street and William Street. Council will be working in close partnership with the police and local businesses to minimise any disruption, but it is advised that there may be some disruption during the evening.

With many families, and particularly young children, expected to attend motorists are asked to be extremely careful when driving within the vicinity of the event in the city centre.

The festivities continue over the coming weeks as we countdown to Christmas, with Festive Time Weekends running from November 21 - December 20, with plenty of fun activities and events.

For more information on the Christmas Lights Switch On, including traffic and travel information, as well as a list of all the Festive Time events for Derry and Strabane go to