ORGANISERS of this year’s Christmas lights switch have moved away from booking expensive, big name acts and will instead focus on a family friendly event that is led by the community.

The event, on Saturday, November 17, will also see a change in venue, with Church Square being used for the switch on instead of Victoria Square.

The celebration will be rebranded as Sparkle in the Square. Organisers want the switch on to have have “a real community feel”, with the “spotlight shining on the borough’s talented musicians, local acts and school choirs who will take to the stage to entertain the crowds”.

The change of approach comes after St Helens Council came under fire in recent years for spending tens of thousands on big name acts.

Starting at noon, the day will see street entertainers line up in Church Square before the musical entertainment runs until 6pm. The mayor of St Helens will be joined by some of the 2018 Pride of St Helens finalists to turn on the lights. Festive food and drink will be available from the same company who supported the St Helens International Food and Drink Festival.

St Helens Council’s cabinet member for arts and culture, Councillor Gill Neal, said the relocation to Church Square would aim to support the town centre’s shopping offer.

Cllr Neal said: “I for one am very much looking forward to it and I hope to see our communities come together to celebrate the very best of St Helens in our 150th year.”

A series of switch ons will take place in districts throughout November and December.

  • Earlestown, Market Street - 18 November, 12pm to 6pm
  • Rainhill, Victoria Pub - 23 November, 4:30pm
  • Bold, the Pastures – 23 November, 6pm
  • Haydock, Haydock Library - 30 November, 4pm to 6pm
  • Victoria Park - 1 December, 4pm
  • Rainford, Church Road - 1 December, 10:30am to 3:30pm
  • Newton-le-Willows, St Peter’s Church - 2 December, 12pm to 6pm
  • Thatto Heath, Thatto Heath Road - 7 December, 3:30pm