Thousands of Boltonians braved the wind and rain to watch the Hairy Bikers and local Paralympian Ola Abidogun switch on the town’s lights on Saturday, November 24.
The packed line-up of entertainment started at 4pm with Capital Radio’s Rob Ellis and Sally Hudson ended with a bang when Bolton’s own bronze medallist Ola Abidogun and the Hairy Bikers flicked the switch at 6pm.
Performances throughout the night included routines from Footlights Drama School, Ajay’s School of Song and Dance, Bolton Majorettes and Bolton Children’s Workshop.
There were also appearances by The Albert Halls pantomime cast, who are featuring in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs over the festive season and the Reebok Rebels with Lofty the Lion.
Musical entertainment was provided by local barbershop group Cottontown Chorus whilst the Red Hot Santas performed festive favourites with a funk, ska or calypso twist and regional success story Rock Choir performed some rocked-up versions of Christmas tunes.
Former Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba also made a special appearance when he joined the Wanderers Club Chaplain Phil Mason onstage to give a message of faith and thanks and to inspire those looking for their own Christmas miracle.
The Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: “We were very proud to be able to welcome the Hairy Bikers, Ola, Fabrice and so many local acts to the biggest free night of entertainment in Bolton.
“The Christmas lights switch-on is always one of the best nights of the year for the town and is the start of a fabulous festive programme, which includes Christmas markets, an ice rink, Santa’s grotto and even real reindeer. There’s something for everyone to enjoy from now until Christmas.”
The Hairy Bikers said: “It’s a great privilege to be asked to turn on the lights. We’ve come to the Food Festival every year and we were delighted to be asked to come back to the town.”
Ola Abidogun said: “I’ve lived in Bolton for five years and it has an amazing family feeling. Everyone knows everybody else and it is an amazingly diverse place.”
Fabrice Muamba said: “It’s amazing to see all these people turn out here today in the rain and they have all had a fantastic time. I’d like to wish all the people in Bolton a great Xmas.”
Free parking is now in operation from 3pm every weekday and all day Saturday and Sunday at Bow Street, Deane Road, Topp Way and the Octagon car parks.