In pictures: Crowds flock to 2023 Cambridge Christmas lights switch-on and performances in market square and Grand Arcade
The countdown to Christmas is officially under way, after Sunday’s Big Switch On in Cambridge helped to get everyone in the festive spirit.
Energetic and memorable performances from a wide range of acts entertained crowds on a stage in the market square and inside the Grand Arcade shopping centre.
Outside, performers included Castle School, Carnival Crew, Disfunktional, On Stage Performing Arts Razzamatazz, Safira, Magenta Slipperz and 4th Dimension Dance, while Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts, St Mary’s School, Abi Dhese-Biggs and Rule Fitness were among those entertaining crowds inside the shopping centre. Vocal Remix, Stagecoach and The Collaboration Choir performed on both stages.
The city has a new sustainable festive lights scheme from contractor Field & Lawn, covering the historic city centre as well as the Station Road and CB1 area. The latter were turned on last Thursday in the first of the city’s festive switch-on events, hosted by Star Radio Drivetime presenter Josh Lovatt.
And Star Radio was back on stage for Sunday’s switch-on in the market square, where Cambridge United players joined the mayor, Cllr Jenny Gawthrope-Wood, for the big moment, which arrived slightly later than the 5pm slot planned.
Becky Burrell, marketing manager at Cambridge BID, which organised the market square activities and last Thursday’s festivities outside the railway station, said of Sunday’s event: “The Christmas lights switch-on is designed to showcase the great community groups, dance troupes, choirs, solo artists, and all of the wonderfully talented people we have in Cambridge and give them a platform to perform, which every year they do with gusto.
“I would like to thank the hundreds of people who performed and of course the Cambridge BID team that work tirelessly to ensure the event is fun for all.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that the people who take time out of their day to attend have the best, free entertainment that we can provide.
“Of course, the switch-on moment is important, however the most important part of the event for me is ensuring that the entire day, from 12-6pm, is as enjoyable as possible for as many as possible.
“We do apologise for the delay to switching on the lights, the programme of entertainment ran over slightly, and we made the decision not to cut short anyone’s performances, as they have worked so hard to perfect them for the event. We also had a slight technical glitch with some of the lights, which the team behind the scenes worked very hard to rectify in the fastest time possible.”
Over at the Grand Arcade, where a carolling reindeer and storyteller bear are now in place to entertain shoppers, there were also huge crowds enjoying the occasion.
Martin Macwhinnie, Grand Arcade centre manager, said: “Once again, it was a fantastic celebration of our local community of artists! From local choirs and dancers to solo singers, over 500 individuals graced the stage, captivating an audience of over 40,000 visitors.
“This traditional event is an important way for us kick off the festive season at Grand Arcade. A heartfelt thank you to all the performers and everyone who joined us to cheer them on!"
Look out for special coverage and more pictures inside this week’s Cambridge Independent, out from Wednesday.