Edinburgh’s Christmas lights switched on

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THE lights are on – Edinburgh’s Christmas is officially under way.

Visitors and locals alike hailed the atmosphere at Sunday’s Light Night event, with crowds gathering on George Street and the surrounding streets for the annual bonanza now dubbed “Light Night”.

Edinburgh's Christmas Lights are switched on with a bang in George Street. Pic: Greg Macvean

Edinburgh's Christmas Lights are switched on with a bang in George Street. Pic: Greg Macvean

Around 1350 performers spread over seven stages added music and movement to the party, with one million bulbs bathing the city in a dazzling festive glow.

And dozens of community groups – including Scotland’s youth piping champions, Punjabi dance troupes and the biggest cheerleading squad in the country – helped entertain crowds on stages positioned between St Andrew Square and Charlotte Square.

Spectators described the switch-on as “truly special”.

Lorry driver Callum White, 46, from Pathhead, said: “It was absolutely gorgeous – it was lovely.

The lights were switched on at 5pm on Sunday. Pic: Greg Macvean

The lights were switched on at 5pm on Sunday. Pic: Greg Macvean

“It’s the first time I was able to see it – we were here to see our nephew’s dance performance and were able to see the lights as well.

“I did not realise there would be so many people.

“The lights bring cheer and it’s good to see strangers speaking to each other.”

The theme for this year’s celebration – hosted by Forth Radio’s Arlene Stuart – was Christmas songs and carols, and a number of leading musical ensembles were on hand to encourage everyone to join in.

Among them were members of Norway’s much-lauded Edvard Grieg Choir, who appeared on the Gold Stage, in front of the Assembly Rooms, with Hordaland County Council convener Tom-Christer Nilsen.

For the past 25 years, Hordaland has donated the towering Christmas tree that decorates The Mound. The event’s international feel proved popular with visitors, who were quick to praise the Capital’s “unique” festive atmosphere.

Sharon Ball, 36, from Filey in Yorkshire, travelled to Edinburgh with husband Andrew, 35, and their two children.

She said: “A lot of effort has obviously gone into it - the fireworks were great, not too loud so the children liked them. I think it’s the actual place itself that makes it special – the buildings, the architecture, even the way the shop windows have been decorated.”

Kerr McLaren, 61, an oil and gas consultant from Edinburgh’s Royal Circus, added: “It’s wonderful to see the city lit up like this – it puts a smile on everybody’s face.”

johnpaual.holden@edinburghnews.com