ONE OF the biggest groups of the noughties will kick off the countdown to Christmas later this week, when they launch a huge festive event.
A whole host of seasonal fun will take over Rainton Arena, at Houghton-le-Spring, when the Winter Wonderland opens on Friday (29 November), including the largest real ice rink in the area and the opportunity to meet Santa himself.
And organisers have revealed that the event will kick off with a bang, with pop favourites S Club featuring Tina, Bradley and Jo, officially launching the festival at 6pm.
Fans of the chart-toppers, who are known for hit singles including Don’t Stop Movin’, Reach and Never Had a Dream Come True, will see them illuminate the site when they switch on the Christmas lights, before performing a selection of their much-loved songs.
Elsewhere at the festival, which is free to attend and will be open to the public from 10am on Friday, visitors can browse an authentic German market, see live reindeer, enjoy a large fairground, make a Christmas wreath or warm up by the fire pits in the après ski tipi bar.
There will also be a packed programme of entertainment at the tipis across the three weeks, including a Christmas film screened every morning at 10:30am.
Jay Johal, who owns Rainton Arena, hopes to see a big turnout.
“S Club are amazing performers and I can’t think of anyone better to launch the Winter Wonderland,” said Jay.
“They are certain to get everyone in the festive spirit and there’s a whole host of free entertainment at the event for all ages to enjoy.
“We’ve been working non-stop to create something really spectacular and I can’t wait to see people’s reactions later this week.”
The Winter Wonderland takes place from 10am to 10pm until 23 December and is free to attend, but there is an additional cost for ice skating, visiting Santa’s grotto and feeding the reindeer.
Skating sessions need to be pre-booked, with prices starting at £3 for under fours, £7 for four to 12-year-olds, £7.50 for 13 to 17-year-olds and £8.50 for 18s and over.
Admission to Santa’s Grotto is £10, which includes a ticket for a child and two additional guests, with each youngster receiving a gift.