The Christmas celebrations got off to a glittering start last night as upwards of 20,000 people flocked to Cork city centre for the switching on of the Christmas lights, with Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald lighting up the city centre shortly after 7pm.
“We are a city of festivals at this stage,” he said. “There is always something different, and Christmas is a particular time of celebration. It [the turning on of the lights] is a great experience for kids and the Glow festival is amazing. It is a big family
occasion. People can enjoy the Christmas experience whilst also picking up a few bargains in the city. We have an incredible 55,000 lights around the city.”
Students from the Academy of Popular Music got the festivities under way at 6.30pm with renditions of such yuletide classics as ‘Fairytale of New York’ and ‘All I want for Christmas’.
The singers are veterans of the music business at this stage, having previously
performed on The Late Late Toy Show and Voice of Ireland. KC and Ross from 96FM were also on hand to get the crowd in the festive spirit.
Among the large crowd was Toni Graham from Mallow and her friend Susan Scanlon from Togher, who were with their kids, Daragh, aged two, and seven-year-old Cameron.
Susan said the ceremony was “a nice build up to Christmas” and that she had fond memories of coming in to such events when she was herself a young child.
However, she admitted that the lights were a bit “modern” for her taste. Toni insisted that she preferred the more understated lights of recent years.
Also among the crowd was Triona Downey from Ballincollig who was at the festivities with her kids Peter, four, and Cathal, one.
Triona said she was taken to the turning on of the lights every year when she was a young child and that she wanted to keep the tradition going with her own family.
“They are very excited about the Christmas tree and the lights. We will go in to the Glow festival as well when it starts.”
Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork Fergal Dennehy said the that Christmas decorations are always a welcome adornment to the city centre.
“Cork, over the last number of years, has changed considerably,” he said. “We see the physical changes. But it has also become a multicultural city. There are so many different nationalities now when one walks down Patrick St. And it is great. Because Cork is a place where people want to come and want to be. There are so many attractions in the city and beyond, and it is fantastic that we have the lights coming on because it brightens the whole place.”
The switching on of the Christmas lights kickstarted the seasonal celebrations as part of a promotional drive by the City Council and Cork Business Association to encourage people to come into the city centre and to shop locally.
Cork will be transformed into a festive wonderland with the opening of Glow on Grand Parade on December 1, which will run over the weekends leading up to Christmas.
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