Peterborough Christmas lights switch on 2022: time, date and location as Gunthorpe gymnast special guest

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Here is everything you need to know about the festive annual switch-on in Peterborough this year.

Christmas is fast approaching, and there is no better way to get into the spirit than going to watch a festive light switch on.

These events are usually more than just turning on lights, with entertainment and special guests also a part of the evening.

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So, what time is the event being held in Peterborough and where exactly? We’ve got you covered, gather the family, grab a hot chocolate to-go and get set for Christmas.

Where will the Christmas lights switch on take place?

The much anticipated Christmas lights switch on will be taking place in Peterborough city centre’s Cathedral Square, including the unveiling of a new light display.

What date do I need to pencil in my diary?

The big Christmas lights switch on is scheduled on the evening of Friday, November 18.

The New Theatre panto cast performed on stage while the crowd geared up for the festive lights.The New Theatre panto cast performed on stage while the crowd geared up for the festive lights.
The New Theatre panto cast performed on stage while the crowd geared up for the festive lights. | David Lowndes

Who is turning on the Christmas lights this year? 

Local gymnast Jake Jarman will be switching on the Christmas lights.

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Jake is an elite gymnast from Gunthorpe in Peterborough who has competed internationally for Great Britain, and for England at the Commonwealth Games in 2022 where he became the first English male gymnast to win four gold medals at a single games.

He made history in being the first senior Great British gymnast to take the gold on the vault at the European championships, bronze on the floor and was eighth all around helping the GB team take the gold too.

More recently, this month the 20-year-old is poised to upgrade after fuelling hope for the Paris Olympics with fifth place on his World Championship debut.

Jake Jarman of team England took part in the medal ceremony for Men’s Floor Exercise Final on day four of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Arena Birmingham on August 01, 2022 (image: Getty Images)Jake Jarman of team England took part in the medal ceremony for Men’s Floor Exercise Final on day four of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Arena Birmingham on August 01, 2022 (image: Getty Images)
Jake Jarman of team England took part in the medal ceremony for Men’s Floor Exercise Final on day four of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Arena Birmingham on August 01, 2022 (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

What time does the event take place?

There will be live music and other entertainment at the fun-filled family occasion from 5pm to 7.30pm.

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Performances include the Peterborough Cathedral Choir, singing Christmas classics, Upon This Rock with some heavier tunes, Mezzo Soprano Gabriella Pinada Rodriguez will be singing opera classics with a Disney twist, Peterborough singer Tommy Philpott, who has a voice that’s been ‘likened to Ed Sheehan’, is also performing.

The switch on will, however, start at 7pm.

Seas of santa hats and neon lights could be seen from above. Seas of santa hats and neon lights could be seen from above.
Seas of santa hats and neon lights could be seen from above. | David Lowndes

What can the children expect to see?

Jake Jarman will be joined by PCRFM breakfast show host Kev Lawrence, Father Christmas and a host of pantomime characters from Peterborough’s theatres.

Simon Ayling who is playing Dick Whittington at the Key Theatre and actors from the Peter Pan show at the Cresset - Peter, Wendy and Mrs Smee (the Dame.) - will also join on stage in character

There will also be some of the talented young dancers from the Cresset who’ll be joining the main characters on stage.

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The event will also be the first time the city’s 40-foot Spruce Christmas tree will be colourfully lit up.

What else can visitors see at Christmas?

This year’s Christmas celebrations will include a giant covered ice rink in Cathedral Square, which will open a week after the Christmas lights switch on, and remain in the square until the end of the school Christmas holidays at the end of January.

Meanwhile, the Christmas markets open from Tuesday 6 to Sunday, 11 December.

The Artisan and Craft market launches on Saturday 3 December and pop-up Christmas stalls open on Thursday, 15, Friday 16 and Saturday, 17 December.

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When will the Christmas tree arrive in the city?

The Cathedral Square tree has caused controversy in recent years – last year the city council said they were ‘considering their options’ after calls were made to replace the tree, with some residents saying it looked like it had ‘arrived in the square dead.’

Eventually the tree was allowed to stay – but the council looked to get compensation after councillor Steve Allen said “ the tree was not of the quality that we would expect.”

Previously an artificial ‘tree’ was used instead of a ‘real’ tree, after the council spent £40,000 on the 10ft decoration in 2015 – but after widespread criticism, it was eventually given away to Wisbech council for free, a year before it was due to be replaced.

This year councillor Allen, deputy leader of the city council, has been to the forest in Solihull where the tree which will be placed in Cathedral is growing.

He personally selected the tree himself.

The giant Norwegian Spruce is scheduled to be delivered in the week to Cathedral Square beginning November 14.

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