X Factor star Laura White shone on stage at Bolton’s Christmas lights switch-on.
More than 3,000 people packed into Victoria Square yesterday to see the 22-year-old flick the switch with Father Christmas and the Mayor of Bolton, Councillor Norman Critchley. Crowds also enjoyed an artificial snow flurry as the lights were switched on.
The sparkling singer, who is from Atherton but classes herself as a Boltonian, turned on the Christmas lights which coincided with a spectacular firework display being launched from the town hall roof.
Due to a throat infection Laura was unable to sing her first top 40 hit ‘You should have known’.
She said: “I’m gutted that I can’t sing. I was so looking forward to it and I will definitely be back to make it up. I love Bolton so much. Even though I live in London at the moment I'm a Bolton girl for life. I recently met Danny from McFly and we were both chatting about what a great town Bolton is. I remember being 16 and singing at the 2003 switch on with Peter Kay and dreaming of flicking the switch like Peter did. My dream has come true!”
Laura joins a long list of local celebrities who have performed the big switch-on, including comedian Peter Kay, presenter Vernon Kay and boxer Amir Khan.
Other entertainment on the evening included performances from local group Bolton Children’s Workshop, the cast of the Octagon production Oliver Twist and the Albert Halls panto Cinderella.
Players from Bolton Wanderers also appeared on stage. Captain Kevin Davies said: “The lads love coming down to the lights and it’s great for the kids too.”
And the grand, long-established parade of Christmas characters – featuring Santa with the Mayor in his sleigh, and a lantern parade with pupils from Lever Edge primary school – once again wound its way through the town centre to Victoria Square for the switch on.
Councillor Cliff Morris, Leader of Bolton Council, said: “It really was a fantastic night and the lights look amazing. Laura was a real star and it was a shame she couldn’t sing but we’re hoping to have her back another year. The switch-on is just the start of our Christmas programme: a town centre festive market, along with more fun and entertainment, starts tomorrow and we’d like to urge as many people as possible to come down and support it.”
Manchester’s Christmas Markets’ supremo Arnd Baggen, will be bringing a selection of continental traders to Victoria Square from tomorrow until December 20. The continental stallholders will be joined by local producers staging a festive food and crafts market tomorrow and Sunday, and December 11, 12, 13 and 18, 19 and 20.
A marquee with entertainment and family fun activities will also be in operation on the same days as the local festive market.