Christmas is coming and the lights will soon be shining.
The UK’s largest artificial Christmas tree will be unveiled at Cheshire Oaks on Thursday, November 13 from 6pm.
The designer outlet will kick start its Christmas season with the annual switch-on event of a 90ft tree decorated with more than 100,000 twinkling lights.
The event will set off with a bang, with fireworks set to music, choirs and festive bands and the chance to walk through the tree to find a special surprise.
The second Winter Wonderland at Chester Racecourse opens to the public on Friday, November 14.
The five-week Christmas attraction will see the site transformed into a magical winter scene covered in snow, regardless of the weather. New highlights include Black Light Puppet Theatre, a Christmas craft workshop, a children’s train and a new Grosvenor Boulevard Shopping area plus favourites from 2013 like real reindeer, an ice rink, Vodka Ice Bar, Dine with Characters, fairground rides, North Pole Village and Santa’s Grotto.
Online advance booking offers include cheaper season ticket prices and free car parking for visitors who want to take advantage of shopping in Chester. A season pass also permits multiple visits to Winter Wonderland and can be purchased in advance online for £5 adults, £3 children – under 3s go free. Some activities are included in the entrance fee but there are supplementary charges for other attractions such as ice skating.
The attraction this year opens from Thursday to Sunday only.
Chief executive of Chester Racecourse Richard Thomas said: “With this unseasonably warm weather, it’s hard to believe that Chester’s Christmas countdown begins next Friday with the opening of Winter Wonderland. We’re really excited about Winter Wonderland opening and urge customers to take advantage of online booking discounts, free parking and the early Christmas slots available with Santa and our Christmas characters.”
People complained about crushing at last year’s opening event but Mr Thomas said that was because it had coincided with the Christmas lights parade which saw everyone turning up at once.
“It’s simply not going to happen because there’s not a parade,” said Mr Thomas, who added that, unlike last year, the opening wasn’t a free event. He said Winter Wonderland was being held over a longer period, offering plenty of opportunities for people to enjoy the experience.
Gavin Matthews and Dee 106.3 will be bringing their roadshow to Faulkner Street, where The Jigsaws will start the show, followed by singers from Hoole and St Werburgh’s & St Columba’s CE primary schools and singer Beth Hopper.
Santa arrives at 5:45pm to assist the BBC Breakfast host to officially turn on the lights at 6pm, ably assisted by the lucky winner of a competition.
Shops will be open late and there will be a grotto, candy floss, mince pies and mulled wine and fireworks.
Chester’s Christmas lights will be switched on next Thursday, November 20 from 6.30pm.