Ready for the big switch-on
November 23, 2007
THIS weekend sees Reading gets into the festive spirit as the Christmas lights are turned on. PHIL CREIGHTON looks at the entertainment on offer all over the town centre
Harry Potter, Father Christmas, Coronation Street and an amazing light show forms this weekend’s entertainment – and best of all, it’s free!
This weekend Reading town centre lights up for Christmas. But don’t worry, no one’s breaking the law by smoking, it’s the amazing extravaganza that is the annual switching on of the town centre’s festive lights.
From John Lewis welcoming Father Christmas on Friday after school, to Corrie stars switching on the lights in the Broad Street Mall at Saturday teatime, it’s going to be one long family party this weekend.
It all starts when Santa arrives at John Lewis riding in the sleigh that was used in the recent Harry Potter movie. Children will receive an early Christmas present as the store will allow them to pose for pictures with Santa in that famous sleigh. He’ll be arriving sometime after 3.30pm and the store will be offering demonstrations and a variety of activities for children to take part in.
“Our aim is to offer visitors to Reading an evening of family fun that will complement The Oracle’s Christmas Spectacular,” explained Julie Taylor, the store’s marketing and events manager.
The Oracle’s Christmas Spectacular starts from 7pm, with its Christmas lightshow, which takes place on the riverside. Now a firm Reading tradition, the light show this year promises synchronised fire performers, dancers and jugglers plus the added excitement of an aerialist suspended high over the stage.
State-of-the-art lighting and specially designed graphic effects, combined with carefully choreographed pyrotechnics and special effects. So wrap up warm and enjoy the view.
This isn’t the only festive event taking place at the venue: at the end of the month, it will unveil its new and improved ice rink.
Last year, the Riverside was host to a skating rink, but this time round it’s introducing Reading’s first real ice rink. Throughout December, there will be a host of special family-friendly events taking place on ice and the rink will be open daily until 9pm everyday until the Twelfth Night – January 6.
Reading’s big weekend closes with Saturday’s switching on of Broad Street Mall’s Christmas lights. The family fun kicks off from noon, with the big moment taking place at 4pm.
In keeping with tradition, the lights will be switched on by familiar faces.
In previous years, it has been soap stars Jessie Wallace, Kate Ford and Bradley Walsh, this year the Mall is pleased to welcome current Corrie favourites Antony Cotton and Samia Smith – better known as Wetherfield’s Sean and Maria.
Another celebrity arrives on Saturday – one that children will be desperate to see. It’s none other than good old Father Christmas. He’ll be arriving in the Broad Street Mall on Saturday from 10am, ready to take requests from good boys and girls prior to making some special deliveries on Christmas Eve.
As if all this wasn’t enough, the town centre will also see Robin Fox, a Victorian magician, perform mind-boggling magic, Sigmund the Singing Reindeer, a stilt-walking Christmas Tree and the Reading Barberettes.
It all makes Reading a real ‘winter wonderland’.