Secret Christmas lights switch-on and Fenwick's virtual window reveal

Khanh Ngo on Newcastle's adapted Christmas celebrations during the coronavirus pandemic

Khanh Ngo
11th November 2020
As a second lockdown is underway and with many public safety restrictions still in force, Christmas this year is looking very different. Here's how the two most iconic pre-Christmas events of Newcastle Christmas are changing to keep people safe.

Christmas lights switch-on kept secret

The City Council has confirmed that they will neither hold the annual switch-on celebrations nor tell the public when the lights will be turned on to avoid gatherings and the potential spread of coronavirus.

The event usually happens in early November and sees massive crowds flock to the city centre. Last year, thousands of fans attended the celebration which featured chart-topping star Sam Fender flipping the light switch.

It is understood, however, that nothing like that will be happening this year due to public health concerns.

A spokesperson for the City Council said: “Newcastle will be celebrating Christmas this year, although it will inevitably be different from previous years to reflect the current situation with COVID-19."

They added: “We are currently working on a plan to ensure the city centre provides some Christmas sparkle and a safe and welcoming environment for people to enjoy.

“Although there will be no Christmas lights switch-on event this year, the city centre will still be illuminated by Christmas lights.”

Fenwick on Northumberland Street kicked off the festive cheer with a virtual launch of its traditional Christmas window display.

Fenwick's window went virtual

Image: Fenwick (Newcastle) Facebook Live Stream

Fenwick's annual Christmas window reveal usually draws huge crowds to Northumberland Street. There, families join a countdown to the moment the curtain drops and the festive theme, kept a closely-guarded secret to that point, is seen for the first time.

Inspired by beloved children's stories and Christmas themes including last year's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Snowman in 2018, the display is a great hit for children and the reveal event has become a tradition for many families.

But this year, the huge gathering cannot happen.

The shop instead arranged a virtual unveiling on Sunday 8 November where, for once, everyone got a front row seat of the big reveal from the comfort of their own homes.

The event was hosted on Facebook Live with a series of build-ups featuring Santa and his helpers before the curtain dropped at 7pm, revealing this year's theme: Wind in the Willows.

Image: Fenwick (Newcastle) Facebook Live Stream

Cordoned off on Sunday afternoon, the display was made available for public viewing on Monday 9 November following government social distancing guidelines.

The stream attracted a large number of viewers across the country and the world, peaking at nearly 80 000 at the moment of the reveal.

The virtual event was brilliantly done to cater for younger audiences and has been praised by many viewers as a great way to bring people together and spread the Christmas cheer in this uncertain time.

If you missed the stream, don't worry! You can still watch the event on Fenwick's Facebook page here.

Featured image: Fenwick (Newcastle) Facebook live stream

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