Festive entertainment kicks off in Cardiff city centre this evening with the new family-friendly Step into Christmas event.
Lord mayor of Cardiff Delme Bowen will officially switch on the Queen Street Christmas tree lights at 5pm and there will be a variety of entertainment around the city centre.
From tap-dancing turkeys to traditional Victorian carol singers, more than 28 acts will be taking part in 80 performances.
The event will mark the opening of Santa’s Grotto on Churchill Way, which will be open from 10am every day in the run-up to December 25.
Tickets cost £5.99, which allows one child to see Santa with two adults.
Santa’s reindeer will also be in town, along with children’s favourites Ben and Holly, from Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, and brass band The Red Hot Santas.
Step Into Christmas will also mark the start of late-night Christmas shopping in the city centre and the return of the Christmas Market in St John Street, Working Street and The Hayes.
There will be free parking at the Cardiff East Park and Ride site from 3pm this afternoon, based on a first-come, first-served basis, running from Pentwyn Interchange to Dumfries Place via Newport Road.
The opening of Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland and Admiral ice rink will follow Step into Christmas on November 17 at the City Hall lawns.
For more information, go to cardiffswinterwonderland.com
See page 26 for our exclusive city centre vouchers.
With less than seven weeks until the big day, Cardiff council hopes the festival will give shops a much-needed boost.
A variety of entertainment will fill the city streets –
Queen Street, The Hayes and around the Castle Quarter in High Street and St John Street will be transformed into stages for the performers.
will be meeting and greeting families at various intervals throughout the evening.
The bandstand at High Street will be the venue for a number of performances including , who will belt out festive favourites alongside up-tempo band The Sneakers and carol-singers dressed in traditional Victorian costume.
Last year’s experiment on the newly-pedestrianised street was an expensive failure for the council. Taxpayers had to stump up for a £90,000 bill to cover the rent of angry stallholders, who said they had been treated “like guinea pigs”.
On Thursday, Councillor Nigel Howells, executive member for leisure, said: “The night promises to be very special and with so much to see and do, I would encourage families to come along early to make sure they get to see everything.
“We have changed the format of Christmas celebrations this year so that more families can enjoy the festive entertainment for longer.
“We have also worked closely with the Cardiff Retail Partnership to have an event which marks the countdown to Christmas and launches late-night shopping in the capital.”