Thousands of people turned out to celebrate Bolton’s biggest and best ever Christmas lights switch on Thursday 25 November, with performances ranging from an international company of fire dancers to a medley of carols from local star Laura White.
Bolton Wanderers stars Kevin Davies and Owen Coyle switched on the Christmas lights. Kevin, who won his first England cap this year, and his manager joined the Mayor of Bolton, Councillor John Byrne, and Father Christmas to flick the giant switch at 7pm in Victoria Square.
The Wanderers were also joined in switching on the lights by Bolton’s own Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville. The mascots, which were unveiled earlier this year were born and bred in Bolton from drops of steel from Watson’s Steel, which is supplying the steel for the Olympic stadium.
The main event started at 5pm in Victoria Square, with an appearance from local group Bolton Children’s Workshop and local singer Lizzie Hogan.
Players from Bolton Wanderers took to the stage to greet revellers and the cast of the Albert Halls panto Aladdin and the Octagon Theatre’s winter production David Copperfield also appeared.
Tonge with the Haulgh community choir, which formed this year and is composed entirely from local people who had never sung before took to the stage to sing three Christmas carols with X Factor star Laura White.
Finally, some high octane excitement was provided by world-famous fire dancing company Flame Oz, who performed a series of entertaining and awe-inspiring performances, which combined stunningly choreographed feats of skill and artistry with powerful and explosive fire dancing.
And the grand, long established Christmas parade of colourful characters, featuring Santa with the Mayor in his sleigh arrived for the switch on at 7pm, which was followed by a fantastic fireworks display.
Kevin Davies said: “It really is an honour to have been chosen to switch on the lights. I love to bring the kids down to the switch on every year. It’s a great atmosphere and a brilliant start to the festive season.”
“Bolton’s very close to my heart - I have lived here for several years and I love the town and the people. I’ve had an amazing time with my first England call-up and switching on the lights in my adopted home town has been the end to a brilliant year!”
Laura White said: “I was really upset that I couldn’t sing last year. I’m delighted to be back in Bolton again this year to sing some traditional carols with a local choir, as well as one of my own songs – it’s been an amazing experience and I’ve enjoyed every minute!”
The Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris said: "We’re delighted that Kevin, Owen and Laura joined us for a very traditional Christmas lights switch-on this year. We’re really pleased that so many people turned out in such wintry weather to join in the fun and we’re sure that this year’s switch on was our biggest and best ever."