A record breaking 14,700 people came to watch and support Preston on Saturday night as the annual Christmas lights were switched on.
Fourteen very unique acts came along to support the event featuring Gabriella Cilmi and Dan Gillespie Sells, the lead singer of The Feeling.
The majority of the performances came from local, home grown talent.
A busy evening, which was organised by Mark Whittle from Preston’s Business Improvement District, said “We say every year we did it better and better but this year I think we got the line-up spot on. It’s not always about celebrities it’s about credible artists; the local talent did really well”
“We thought starting it at 5.30 rather than 3.30 has made a big difference, people had time to get home from work, get home from shopping and come and watch the event, we thought this worked”
The first act to kick start the evening at 5.30pm was the University of Central Lancashire’s Musical Theatre Society (MTS), who sang a number of famous Christmas tunes including “Carol of the Bells”.
Andrew Storey, one of the singers of the production, said “It’s always scary being the first act on stage, but we’re very excited to perform to such a big crowd”
This was followed by Nina Fahey and Connor Banks, who were both ‘Prestons’ Got Talent’ winners this year, the pair were overwhelmed by enthusiasm by the crowd.
Prestons’ Guitar hero, Jamie Brewer walked on stage and had the crowd in suspense as he quietly sat down with his guitar. This changed as soon as he struck his instrument with the crowd lapping up his finger picking and slide set.
Afterwards he admitted “It was pretty mental, that was the biggest crowd I’ve ever played too, before this I’d only ever played to 300/400 people.” His unique style of playing was different to what many of the crowd would have heard before.
The event began to pick up pace with the regular face of Mike Dignam appearing on stage, his acoustic rock style of playing was enjoyed fully. He said before going on “I’ve played at this event two years ago and I’m really excited to play again tonight”
Another regular act, R3ACTION burst onto stage and gave an energetic performance which was deservedly applauded by the crowd, who sang along the entire time.
After performing, the trio said “It’s definitely bigger since last time we played; we’ve come a lot further in ourselves so that made it more enjoyable”
“The atmosphere was incredible”
Thinking the crowd would have run out of energy by now, Class A made sure they regained it as the attention they received was incredible, the popular boy band had just come back off a summer tour which they’d played to 20-30 000 people, but Preston definitely gave those bigger crowds a run for their money.
The boys said “We felt alive! Love Preston We love the north!”
(We) “can’t complain about the attention! Absolutely brilliant, brilliant crowd”
Real Radio were on of the sponsors of the evening, which meant Lorna Bancroft and Glen Hunt hosted the evening and were thrilled to be at the switch on.
Glen said “It’s particularly special for me as Preston is my home town, me and Lorna have been doing this for the past 2 years now and every time we’re told we’re going to be doing the switch on its punch the air moments!”
Lorna added “the crowd always make me feel really welcome they’re brilliant they always get behind us they get behind the acts and it’s great to see the local talent and meet the people of Preston.”
Even Santa paid a visit on stage with the help of a special helper Alfie Baldwin.
The most anticipated act of the night, Gabriella Cilmi, was met with sheer delight from the crowd as she sang her famous “Sweet about me” and her new single “Symmetry” which was released this September.
“I feel good! Apart from the cold *laughs* it was great I feel really good”
Dan Gillespie Sellls, the lead singer of The Feeling, who sadly couldn’t all attend the evening, was the final act of the night, singing crowd favourites “Love It When You Call” and “Sewn”.
Swiftly after finishing, Dan was joined by Gabriella, Glen and Lorna and many others for the special event.
Sadly however, the event did run over what was estimated, this left lots of families having to leave early and missing the lights switch on.
‘Kingbillmbe’ commented on the live twitter feed on the night saying “Was reluctant to go as it is usually a shambles and once again it was. We left at 8:05 as they still weren’t on. The kids had had enough”
Mark said, “Unfortunately, we did go a bit over schedule, but this can happen when you do live events,”
“Apart from the timing, it went really well!”
A list of the full line up;
UClan Musical Theare
Dan Gillespie Sells
Did you go down to the switch on? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below