Comment: Christmas lights switch-on is a real tonic

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It is easy to get cynical about Christmas events in these days when the festive season has become so commercialised. This year it was August when we reported on the first Christmas sales display in the Capital. Stores which jump in so early may catch a few extra well-organised shoppers but their over-eager approach is a huge turn-off for most people.

But you know when the Christmas season is really underway when the festive lights get switched on in the city centre. And the community focus of Edinburgh’s Christmas lights switch-on is a real tonic.

There will be plenty of showbiz razzmatazz when the lights are switched on on Sunday. Our very own singing superstar Susan Boyle is of course the star turn, while there will be high quality entertainment across seven stages on George Street.

Celebrating with the city’s biggest programme of free entertainment is a great way to kick-off the festive season. But the real beauty of the Light Night event, though, is that it is a true community and family event.

More than 50 community groups will take to the stage in front of crowds totalling 30,000. It’s a great experience for them and their families as well as great entertainment for everyone else. This is a fantastic showcase for hundreds of our talented youngsters and community groups.

The fact that research into childhood cancer will benefit from the generosity of those taking part on the day is entirely fitting. Many of those who will attend are likely to be families who we know from past experience will give generously to a cause that will be close to their hearts.

Christmas can be expensive. So an event which families can enjoy together for free is a great thing for the Capital. Celebrating together with friends and neighbours is what the festive season should be all about. So enjoy the first great chance of the season to do that – but remember to wrap up warm.