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2014 Christmas lights switch on set to be cracker of an event

Shrewsbury's festive season is set to kick start with a bang next week as the town's Christmas Cracker event returns, bigger and better than ever.

The 2014 switch-on is being organised by Shrewsbury Town Council, in partnership with Shrewsbury Shopping Centres, and is sponsored by Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID).

The merriment commences on Wednesday 19th November 2014, with entertainment from 5pm until 7.30pm, when bands, choirs and acoustic acts are set to fill the town with seasonal music to mark the start of late night shopping and the launch of the new Christmas lights display.

Switching on the lights this year will be stars from Theatre Severn's pantomime, Peter Pan, and the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Beverley Baker. There will also be the opportunity for one lucky competition winner to join the Mayor on stage for the countdown, and to win a family pass for the panto - event organisers will be on the lookout for the best Peter Pan costume on the night, so dust off those green tights and sprinkle on some pixie dust to be in with a chance of winning.

The ever-popular lantern parade will also make a return and will set off from the Darwin Shopping Centre at 6.15pm, leading into the Square for the official countdown at 6.30pm. Participants can make a lantern for free at a workshop being held this Saturday 15th November, from 11am until 4pm, in the former British Heart Foundation Unit in the Darwin Shopping Centre. They will then be invited back to take part in the parade as part of the Christmas Cracker celebrations.

And if that weren't enough excitement, Santa and his sleigh will also be in the Square all evening, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Shawbury & Mid-Shropshire.

Shrewsbury's shopping centres will be open until 8pm and the Market Hall will stay open until 9pm. Restaurants, including The Birds Nest Café and Spanish tapas eatery Café AleOli, will be open at the market to evening diners, while various gift stalls will open for Christmas shopping. Shoppers will also receive a warming complimentary glass of mulled wine and a mince pie.

Alongside the switch on, a stunning visual display the 'Clockwork Toy Factory' from new media light artist Andy McKeown will be projected onto the Museum and Art Gallery from 6.30pm. The display will also debut 'Christmas in Shrewsbury', a video commissioned by the Shrewsbury BID and produced by filmmaker Aaron Child of Painted Productions.

Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Beverley Baker said: "We have created a packed schedule to celebrate the launch of the town's new Christmas lights, with free family entertainment, and the all-important start of late night shopping to ensure you can find all those special Christmas gifts locally. Judging the Peter Pan costume competition won't be easy, but I am looking forward to it. I can't wait to see all those green tights and twinkly fairy wings!"

Kirsten Henly, Shrewsbury BID manager added: "There is plenty to do and see in Shrewsbury to mark the start of the run up to Christmas and we're looking forward to seeing the town beautifully lit up in new festive lights.

"The Andy McKeown display will be great entertainment for people coming in to town and we'll also be revealing our latest video, showcasing Shrewsbury to shoppers and visitors this Christmas."

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