Colchester’s Lion Walk Shopping Centre and Red Lion Yard welcomed the festive season on Sunday (30 November 2014) with a day of family entertainment, a visit from Santa to switch on its Christmas lights. The annual light switch on event, which attracted 2,500 people, ended with the spectacular traditional firework show.
This year, Lion Walk and Red Lion Yard’s Christmas lights were switched on by Colchester United’s goalkeeper Sam Walker, its fluffy mascot Eddie the Eagle and Santa himself. Colchester United has recently opened a pop-up shop in Red Lion Yard that will stay open until end of January.
While tracking down the perfect gifts among Lion Walk’s big brand stores and Red Lion Yard’s quirky independents, shoppers enjoyed an afternoon of festive entertainment from local groups including the 40s harmony group Fox, Wiggle and Sass, The Valentine School of Dance, The Military Wives, Colchester Operatic Society and Theatricool.
Lion Walk and Red Lion Yard were buzzing with people from noon to the light switch on at 4.30pm and retailers across the centre have reported a successful day of trading. Costa Coffee doubled its sales compared to a normal Sunday. BHS with its three-day Black Friday event reported strong sales on the day along with Body Shop and New Look.
The Bavarian Christmas market, which is in Lion Walk until 30 December, also proved to be a huge success among shoppers wanting something warm to eat and drink on the day while temperatures were dropping.
Louise Jensen Deputy Centre Manager said: “We are very pleased with the light switch on, the Centre couldn’t have been busier. I think the combination of our big brand stores and the independent retailers, makes us such a great place for Christmas shopping. Our annual firework show is always popular and this year we had a great line up of acts to create a fun festive atmosphere.”
THE FUN DOESN’T STOP HERE – to get everyone in the Christmas spirit Lion Walk and Red Lion Yard are also putting on a busy programme of FREE festive family fun and entertainment every Saturday and every Wednesday evening, when the shops stay open to 9pm, in the run up to Christmas.
Award winning choir Funky Voices will put on a show of upbeat, foot tapping, festive songs for Wednesday’s late night shopping on 10 December to support the Rotary Club’s Christmas collection. Colchester District Pipes & Drums will provide further support to the collection on Wednesday night on 17 December.
On Saturday 13 December Colchester Operatic Society and Colchester Theatretrain will be raising the Christmas spirit in the centre.
For the final Saturday of festive entertainment (20 December) Mother Christmas makes a stop at Lion Walk and Red Lion Yard before continuing her journey back to the North Pole. She will make sure that any final Christmas wishes are reported back to Santa. Plus a brass jazz quartet will be playing festive tunes during the day.