Thousands watch Edinburgh’s Christmas lights switch on

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IT’S started to look a lot like Christmas.

Thousands descended on George Street last night for the city’s annual switch-on extravaganza and to catch a glimpse of global superstar Susan Boyle.

Susan Boyle turns on the Edinburgh Lights with  Gracie Linn, 10.

Susan Boyle turns on the Edinburgh Lights with Gracie Linn, 10.

Singers, dancers and community groups from all over the Capital entertained the swarming crowds as Light Night got into full swing.

Audiences were treated to a variety of entertainment on seven different stages, including choirs, cheerleaders and Irish dancers, as they eagerly awaited the big countdown which would see Edinburgh illuminated with thousands of dazzling Christmas lights.

The event was hosted once again by Forth 1 DJ Arlene Stuart, and she was joined on the Gold Stage by Lord Provost Donald Wilson and Pål Kårbø, deputy county convener of Hordaland in Norway, which donates the city’s famous Christmas tree.

Smiling at the crowd, Mr Wilson said: “It’s absolutely stunning, what a sea of faces.

“I have the advantage of looking out over the crowd and it’s absolutely phenomenal. This event is particularly important because it is a community event, it’s for Edinburgh people, and that’s what makes it very special for me.”

Host Arlene said: “I don’t know another city in the world that puts on a Christmas event like this.”

As darkness fell and the air turned colder, crowds danced to the sound of festive music wrapped up in their hats and scarves. They then erupted into applause when Britain’s Got Talent star SuBo appeared on stage accompanied by 11-year-old Gracie Linn, who has recently recovered from cancer, and was representing Edinburgh’s Christmas’ chosen charity, Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens.

The I Dreamed a Dream singer told the crowd it was such a “special thing” for her to be there and said she was thrilled to be given the opportunity. She said: “I’m home in Scotland for Christmas, to spend it with my family and friends.

“I’m hoping a gentleman from a certain pantomime falls down my chimney this year.”

Boyle then sang Silent Night to the crowd before thousands joined in for the ten-second countdown.

When SuBo and Gracie pressed the button to illuminate the city, the crowd was filled with Christmas cheer, as fireworks lit up the sky above Charlotte Square.

The Miller family, from Ravelston, said this year’s Light Night had been fantastic.

Eight-year-old Hope, who had been performing in the event, said: “It was scary at first when I got on stage but it’s an amazing thing to be part of, it’s brought the whole city together.”