Sir Chris Hoy to switch on Christmas lights

Pupils from Holy Rood High will be among the singers at the event. Picture: Jon Savage

Pupils from Holy Rood High will be among the singers at the event. Picture: Jon Savage

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HUNDREDS of performers are preparing to put their own spin on the classic 12 Days of Christmas in a spectacular start to the city’s official Christmas Festival.

More than 1300 entertainers will perform across ten stages on George Street for Sunday’s Light Night – the grand opening to this year’s 
festival.

A total of 63 school and community groups will perform an act, dance, song or a piece of music based on one of the days of 
Christmas.

And six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy will officially switch on Edinburgh’s Christmas lights in a dramatic finish to the two-and-half-hour spectacular that will include a fireworks finale.

Sir Chris said he was looking 
forward to the occasion. “To be asked to switch on the lights in your home town is a massive honour and I can’t wait,” he said.

The mass community event has been orchestrated by Underbelly director Charlie Wood, who said he wanted to replicate on a giant scale his childhood memories of performing plays at Christmas.

He said: “What do schools and families do at this time of year? You put on shows and plays for your family and we wanted to bring that together right in the centre of 
Edinburgh.”

Skills on show at the street carnival will range from LED hula hooping to African drumming, Gaelic singing and swing dancing.

A Gold Stage situated between Frederick and Hanover streets will host premier acts, with a performance from West End star Louise Marshall and sing-along sessions led by groups such as the Edinburgh Rock and Sing in the City choirs.

Drake Music Scotland – an arts organisation for people with disabilities – will deliver Beatles hit single Come Together based around the second day of Christmas. One band member will play a guitar solo using a laptop and triggering notes by clicking his jaw.

Group artistic director Pete Sparkes said of the Light Night concept: “Sometimes at these events you would have a celebrity band or professional performers involved, but actually it’s representatives from all over Edinburgh. It guarantees many of the people in the audience will have a connection with the performers.”

Organisers are expecting around 18,000 people to attend Light Night, and Mr Wood said the free event was a gift to the Edinburgh community, with the extravaganza to promote charity network Cash for Kids.

Essential Edinburgh chief executive Andy Neal said George Street was a much better location than The Mound for the switch-on, adding: “London is all about Oxford Street and Regent Street, so this makes a lot more sense.”

Light Night runs from 2.30pm to 5pm.

dale.miller@edinburghnews.com