Lack of a suitable and safe location to host the annual event that usually kicks off Christmas in Manchester means that this year there will be no Christmas lights switch-on show in the city.
Council bosses have spent the last few weeks trying hard to find a location that would be both big enough – with appropriate sightlines for an audience of families with small children – and also safe enough to host the much-loved annual event that regularly attracts thousands of people into the city centre to kickstart the festive season.
Despite best endeavours and trying everything to make things work, the amount of construction work currently underway at key locations in the city centre this year rules out a big switch-on event.
Plans are however already being made to ensure that the event returns to the city centre again next year 2023, ahead of what promises to be the biggest and best ever switch-on event in Manchester’s history the following year in 2024 when the event will once again return to Albert Square in front of the city’s majestic and magnificent Victorian Town Hall.
Councillor Pat Karney, Christmas spokesperson for Manchester City Council, said: “We’ve tried really hard to make a big Christmas lights switch-on event happen again this year after not being able to have one for the last couple of years, but despite our very best efforts this just isn’t going to be possible.
“Anyone who has been in the city centre recently can’t fail to have noticed all the development work going on to make Manchester even better than it already is, and as great as this is it does mean we’ve not got the space needed to safely manage a big switch-on event this year.
“The ongoing work to renovate the Town Hall rules out Albert Square, as does ongoing demolition and construction work at the end of Deansgate. Piccadilly Gardens unfortunately isn’t suitable in its current formation for a switch-on event, and after having a good look at safety and sightline issues we’ve also had to rule out St Peter’s Square as a site that is just too complex to manage to ensure a successful event that could be enjoyed by the thousands of people, including young children, who usually attend.
“We’re very well aware how much families enjoy the switch-on and what it means to them and are gutted that we can’t deliver an event this year for them.
“We will however definitely be back with a big switch-on event next year for them, followed by Manchester’s best ever Christmas switch-on event the year after that in 2024 when our wonderful Town Hall and Albert Square will be back in use again.
“In the meantime we’ve pulled out all the stops and have got some extra special Manchester Christmas magic in store this year to bring a sparkle to the city’s streets and put a smile on everyone’s faces.
“Watch this space for more announcements very soon on some absolutely not-to-be-missed free festive treats coming to Manchester this Christmas.”
Although there won’t be a big switch-on event this year, the city centre will still be dressed in its sparkly Christmas best with streetlights, lights in trees, and light installations throughout the city centre from Thursday 10 November when the Christmas Markets open.
The exception to this is St Peter’s Square, which will host Remembrance Sunday events on Sunday 13 November, and will therefore not be lit for Christmas until the week beginning Monday 14 November to coincide with the welcome return of Father Christmas who will once again be taking up residence in front of Central Library for the duration of the festive season.