Southampton set for a Christmas extravaganza

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09 November 2021

The scene is set for a spectacular festive season in Southampton City Centre this Christmas.

The festive fun kicks off on November 18 with the switching on of the Christmas lights and opening of the German Market in an event that will launch the city’s Christmas season.

As well as the popular German Market, which returns after a year’s absence, families can enjoy the free city centre Christmas walking trail that will enchant children and parents alike.

The city centre will truly enter the festive spirit with entertainment for visitors and locals, from Christmas characters parading the streets, seasonal plays, pantomime, late night shopping hours and delicious dining opportunities.

“It all adds up to a sensational festive season ahead,” commented Giles Semper, Executive Director of GO! Southampton which is organising the yuletide activities along with Southampton City Council and local businesses.

“Last year was challenging for obvious reasons, but this year Southampton is back bigger and better than ever with a host of reasons for people to shop, dine and be entertained in the city centre,” he added.

The fun starts on November 18 from 5-7pm with the opening of the German Market and Christmas light switch-on in the city centre.

This year, the accompanying entertainment will be spread out across the city centre to mitigate the risks of spreading COVID-19 and to encourage social distancing, allowing visitors to move around and experience what’s on offer.

From 5pm the streets will come to life with all your favourite Christmas songs, courtesy of The Rock Choir, 1940’s wartime style vocal harmony group Company B, local ‘The Voice Kids’ finalist Isla Croll and more. Also look out for a plethora of magical Christmas characters roaming around outside from the Bargate to Guildhall Square and inside at the Marlands and Westquay shopping centres, including the Living Snow Globe, Sofa Driving Santa and Corvus Angelicus – two ten-foot-tall luminous angels. Several fun and cheeky characters will also be wandering around the area such as Granny Turismo, Cocky Robins and Musical Ruth. Live entertainment from Tall Will (The World’s Tallest Bubbleologist) and more will be sure to put a smile on visitors faces during the evening.

Just before 7pm an audio countdown delivered from speakers at the top end of the Above Bar precinct and in the Marlands will remind visitors that the city centre lights are about to be switched on, kicking off an events schedule that will then continue to run throughout the Christmas period.

In addition to this year’s entertainment, Cadbury and Wave 105 are giving visitors the chance to become a Cadbury Secret Santa this Christmas in Southampton. From 3-7pm head to Westquay (Level 2) and send chocolate secretly to someone you love for free. Find out more here.

Follow the Facebook Event page to stay up with date with details of the Christmas Lights Switch On Event.

The traditional German Market, featuring unique, individually designed alpine chalets, will also be part of the festive schedule and will run from 18 November to 23 December. There are plenty of independent stallholders offering a range of hand-made, authentic gifts including: environmentally friendly and recycled goods, candles, clothing, jewellery as well as Christmas decorations. Food and drink options include the popular German bratwurst, waffles, mulled wine, beer and hot chocolate. Chalets are open 10am to 8pm daily with the bars staying open for a further two hours in the evening, until 10pm.

The free Christmas walking trail runs from 27 November – 24 December, organised by the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) GO! Southampton.

Families or groups can follow the trail through the North Pole, South Pole or both, on an adventure around the twinkling city centre. Look out for penguins and polar bears on your way, they will show you the clues. Find all the clues and unscramble the festive phrases to claim your free prizes.

Trail maps will be distributed to 23 schools across the city, so look out for them in school bags and at reception. There will also be copies in selected locations in the city centre as well as digital version which you can print at home. Find out more about this fun, free family trail here.

Giles Semper, Executive Director of GO! Southampton said: “The Christmas lights switch-on is always a highlight in the city centre calendar. It not only makes for a fabulous evening out with friends and family but also shines a spotlight on the city’s high street while boosting trade in local shops, bars and restaurants.”

Councillor Spiros Vassiliou, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture and Heritage at Southampton City Council said: “Southampton is a real Christmas destination and the place to enjoy over the festive season. Southampton’s exciting offer also includes a special lights switch on event, pantos and live entertainment, in addition to our hugely popular retail offering. There is so much to get involved in for local families, and we look forward to welcoming them as well as our visitors. As we are bidding to become UK City of Culture 2025, the Christmas Market and wider offer gives us an opportunity to come together to celebrate and experience Christmas in Southampton through culture, live entertainment and community events.”

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