It started to look like Christmas in Rochdale this weekend when the lights switch-on took place in front of a packed crowd at the town hall.
Over 2,500 people attended the council-organised event which featured a festive market in the Great Hall, live entertainment, food and drink. The town hall was lit in spectacular colours, providing a vivid backdrop for the day that featured local singer Gem O’Reilly, Hopwood Hall College Drama students and Rochdale Music Service. Amongst the activities on offer were storytime and craft sessions for children and a penalty shoot-out competition run by Rochdale AFC.
Wardle Community Brass Band played Christmas favourites and the afternoon’s performances were hosted by local actor Colin Meredith.
With the town hall clock approaching 5pm, the Mayor Councillor Ray Dutton introduced Father Christmas on the balcony, accompanied by stars from this year’s Gracie Field’s Theatre pantomime including Coronation Street’s Rhea Bailey and Emmerdale’s Kelsey-Beth Crossley before the festive switch on.
The Mayor said: “The crowd was fantastic, our town hall looked wonderful and all our performers were superb. This year we should all make a pledge…that we will buy local and, not just for Christmas. By buying local we will be supporting the shops, and those who work in them. There is a great selection in the town.”
Local youngsters played a special part in the celebration, bringing Christmas lanterns from Rochdale Exchange Shopping Centre to create a sea of light in the crowds, and the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre had special guest Bjorn the Polar Bear in the Polar Bear mask workshop.
As the lights were switched on, the sky came alive again with a fireworks display before the entertainment continued into the night with a Ceilidh at Touchstones Rochdale.
28 Nov 2016