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Canterbury Christmas lights switch on 2021 to take form of 'light up parade'

A Christmas light switch-on event is set to take place in the form of a parade this year.

Canterbury's seasonal festivities will kick off this Friday when the city's five miles of twinkling lights are officially turned on.

Crowds at a previous switch-on event in Canterbury. Picture: Canterbury BID
Crowds at a previous switch-on event in Canterbury. Picture: Canterbury BID

But in a bid to encourage social distancing, a "light up parade" will be taking place this year instead of a static stage.

Typically, crowds of about 5,000 people gather around a stage in the high street, where the cast of The Marlowe Theatre's pantomime entertain crowds before the Lord Mayor turns on the lights.

But this Friday, visitors will process through the city centre as the 118,000 LED lights are switched on, spelling the start of the festive season.

Organised by Canterbury Business Improvement District (BID), the parade will be led by the No Limits Street Band, followed by the Lord Mayor and his family, the Marlowe panto cast in a horse-drawn carriage, and Christmas characters and people carrying lanterns.

Singer Robbie White will get the crowd in the festive spirit by performing songs in the Marlowe forecourt from 5.45pm.

Workers installing lights on Canterbury's Westgate Towers
Workers installing lights on Canterbury's Westgate Towers

The parade will then leave the Marlowe at 6pm.

It will process up the high street and through Rose Lane, before finishing at Rose Square where it will be met by kmfm presenter Andy Walker.

Canterbury's Christmas market will also be open from 10am to 7pm in St George's Street, Whitefriars and Rose Lane.

The Christmas lights adorn 21 streets in the city centre, and cost £66,000 annually. They are provided by Canterbury BID and paid for by businesses in the BID area.

Friday will mark Canterbury's first switch-on event in two years, as last year's was cancelled along with many others due to the pandemic, and was instead broadcast online.

For a guide to Christmas switch-on events taking place elsewhere in Kent, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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