Christmas countdown set to begin with lights switch-on

Hannah Wheatley with her drawing of her penguin winning light.

Hannah Wheatley with her drawing of her penguin winning light.

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Festive lights are set to shine brightly from next week.

North Tyneside’s countdown to Christmas begins on November 18, with the switching on of the festive lights, children’s lantern parade and popular St Nicholas Winter Festival.

This year’s VIP is nine-year-old Hannah Wheatley who will be switching on the lights in Whitley Bay assisted by Mayor Norma Redfearn

Hannah, a pupil at Redesdale Primary School in Wallsend, is the winner of the council’s design a festive light competition. Her fun penguin drawing has now been made into a colourful Christmas light and will take pride of place in this year’s display.

Schoolchildren will get the festivities started at 4pm with the annual lantern parade from Marine Park First School along Park View before finishing at St Paul’s Church.

Local choirs and panto stars from Playhouse Whitley Bay will be entertaining the crowds from 4pm before the official lights switch on at 5.30pm in Whitley Road.

Friday also sees the start of the two-day St Nicholas Winter Festival with stalls selling traditional gifts and produce, entertainment, carol singing, fairground rides, Santa’s grotto and the chance to meet a real reindeer on Saturday.

St Paul’s Church will also be holding its annual fair on Saturday between 10am and 2pm with princess visits, a cake stall, crafts and a raffle.

Mrs Redfearn said: “The Christmas lights switch-on is a lovely family event that brings a sparkle to the dark winter nights and marks the beginning of the Christmas countdown.”

“I am particularly fond of the wonderful lantern parade when the children proudly show off their lanterns that they have made in school.”

For more information about the council’s Winter Festival, which includes Christmas markets, appearances by Santa, pantomimes, and much, much more, visit www.visitnorthtyneside.com