Real penguins and reindeer, Father Christmas, CBeebies star Alex Winters, Postman Pat and the Heart FM breakfast duo Ed James and Rachel New, will headline huge family event on Saturday November 17th 2012.
Solihull town centre will be positively fizzing with Festive spirit this Christmas as the whole town comes together to create a winter wonderland complete with snow, live reindeer and penguins, the tantalising smells of roast chestnuts and mulled wine and, of course, Father Christmas himself.
The countdown to Christmas kicks off on Saturday 17th November, when the Christmas Lights switch-on returns, by popular demand.
Father Christmas will be flying in straight from the North Pole to Touchwood’s Manor Walk entrance on Saturday 17 November to officially open his free grotto between 1-4pm.
Children will be able to hop on board Father Christmas’s sleigh to meet the man himself, his real-life reindeers and penguins.
From 3.45pm, crowds are set to gather in Mell Square for an afternoon packed full of fun, games, freebies, music and entertainment, hosted by Ed and Rachel from the Heart FM breakfast show.
There will also be special guests: Alex Winters – the hugely-popular CBeebies presenter – Postman Pat and his cat Jess and a special Harry Potter show, complete with Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape.
At 4.45pm there will be a spectacular parade along the High Street towards Mell Square, led by Father Christmas and his reindeer, along with Shirley Pipe Band and more than 20 well known children’s characters and stilt walkers handing out sweets and treats.
With Father Christmas in attendance, the lights switch on can get underway at 5pm. There’s even going to be snow apparently (no matter what the weather forecast!) so visitors can expect the lights switch on to be a truly magical moment.
Just a week later, on Saturday November 24th, the Solihull Christmas Fayre returns in Mell Square. Expect to find stalls bursting with seasonal treats, handmade Christmas gifts and lots of delicious food to sample, including the ever-popular bratwurst, chocolate, crêpes and roast chestnuts, as well as an outdoor bar. The Fayre will be open every day from November 24th until Sunday 23rd December.
Across December there are other special events happening across the town centre. Visitors will be treated to the sounds of local choirs, regular farmers and speciality food markets, exclusive customer shopping events and entertainment in John Lewis and a service and celebration for the Menorah switch on – making a visit to Solihull a real Christmas treat throughout the run up to Christmas.
And not forgetting the traditional Panto (oh, no we wouldn’t!). Dick Whittington runs from Friday 14 December to Monday 14th January at the Arts Complex with all the traditional fun and downright silliness for the whole family.
Late night shopping and free parking
Across late November and throughout December many of the shops will remain open late into the evening. Touchwoodhas extended opening hours during December until 8pm on weekdays, 9pm on Thursdays and 7pm on Saturdays, with John Lewis staying open until 9pm on weeknights and 10pm on Thursdays 13th and 20th December. Stores across Mell Square, Poplar Road, Station Road and the High Street will also be opening late.
Parking will be free for cars arriving after 6pm in Touchwood, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Church Hill, Mell Square and Lode Lane car parks, from Monday to Friday, from Thursday 29th November until Monday 24th December.