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Cambridge gets festive with Santa, reindeer and The Big Switch-on

By Paul Brackley

From left Martin Lown from the Round Church, Vanessa Burkitt from Catherine Jones and Simon Pollard from Millers Music have brought together the citys independent businesses
From left Martin Lown from the Round Church, Vanessa Burkitt from Catherine Jones and Simon Pollard from Millers Music have brought together the citys independent businesses

The festive season well and truly arrives in Cambridge this weekend, with Santa, reindeer, carols, live performances and activities culminating in the Big Switch-on of the city's Christmas lights, supported by the Cambridge Independent.

The Grand Arcade Christmas lights switch on 2015
The Grand Arcade Christmas lights switch on 2015

There will be plenty of family fun on offer on Saturday and Sunday throughout the city centre – not to mention promotions and bargains for shoppers.

The Grand Arcade, Lion Yard and The Grafton shopping centres will host activities and music as their Christmas lights go on, while for the first time, 60 of the city’s independent businesses have teamed up to bring festive cheer to the heart of Cambridge.

Market square will be the focal point of the Big Switch-on festivities on Sunday, with live music and performances throughout the day, culminating in the lights being turned on by Cambridge United players Josh Coulson and Will Norris, with Marvin the Moose lending a hand – or should that be a paw?

This is the fourth year that the Big Switch-on has been planned and funded by Cambridge BID – a collaboration of more than 1,000 businesses working together to promote and keep the city centre vibrant.

The weekend culminates in the Big Switch-on
The weekend culminates in the Big Switch-on

Becky Burrell, marketing and commercial manager for Cambridge BID, said: “We are delighted to be staging another fantastic switch-on event for both locals and visitors to enjoy.

“We are proud to be showcasing such a wonderfully diverse line-up of music, dance and home-grown talent which will appeal to everyone, epitomising exactly what eclectic Cambridge is all about.”

For the tenth year a Giving Tree will be in place at The Grafton, in partnership with Heart FM Cambridge, allowing shoppers to buy a present for someone in need. The charities that will receive the presents are Woman’s Aid, East Anglian Children’s Hospices, Teenage Cancer Trust, Clic Sargent, Home Start, Little Miracles and various social services across the area. You can pop your present under the tree located at Great Court from Saturday. The lights will be switched on in The Grafton at 4pm.

Meanwhile, Lion Yard will host face painting, a Christmas photo booth and live music on both days.

The Grand Arcade’s activities will take place on Sunday.

A spokesman for the Grand Arcade said: “Come down and see the confetti canons go off and the prancing reindeer and Santa’s sleigh light up the shopping centre for the start of the yuletide season.

“Stores will be offering one-day only discounts, mince pies, coffee and wine to help you kick off your Christmas shopping.”

Independent shops and businesses have ensured there is more than ever to enjoy, with lots of activities, offers and promotions. Children can have their photo taken with Santa, who will arrive by punt in Quayside, or with the live reindeer at the Round Church, which will also be the venue for a carol concert.

Vanessa Burkitt, of Catherine Jones of Cambridge jewellers, who has worked with Millers Music and other independents on the festivities, said: “It’s the first time that businesses in the heart of Cambridge have got together to mark the beginning of the Christmas season. It’s exciting to be a part of and we hope families will enjoy it all.”

Paul Brackley, the editor of the Cambridge Independent, said: “We are proud to support the Big Switch-on and delighted to promote the array of activities taking place this weekend.

“It’s a special time of year – and thanks to a lot of hard work from people across the city, this weekend promises to get everyone in the festive spirit.”

See the full schedule of events.

View all the promotions and offers from independent shops in the heart of Cambridge.


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