Commercial PhotographyOn Thursday 27 November residents and visitors are invited to come into the Town Centre to get in the mood for Christmas and enjoy a magical evening filled with festive music, dance and fireworks.

From 5.30pm the northern end of the High Street (opposite M&S) will play host to a range of wonderful performances and exciting special appearances before the countdown to the traditional Christmas lights switch on takes place at 6.30.

On the evening illuminated entertainment will come from Worldbeaters Music who will delight the crowds with their high-impact drumming show ‘Spark’. This will be followed by a beautiful winter wonderland LED and laser light show brought to the High Street by light performers ‘Feeding the Fish’.

The highlight of this year’s event is Stockton’s very own specially commissioned ‘singing Christmas tree’ – the only one of its kind in the UK. The tree’s large tiered structure will physically host a 70 piece choir featuring amazing singers from across the Borough and beyond including West End performers and members of some of the region’s best known bands. Norton born professional pianist Danny MacCormack is the Musical Director behind the singing tree and has returned to his home Borough especially to bring together singers and musicians for this uplifting performance of Christmas songs.

At 6.30pm a countdown by BBC Tees’ Ali Brownlee and comedian Sally Hayward will start before Mayor of Stockton, Councillor Barbara Inman and world champion athlete Richard Kilty officially switch the lights on.

As fireworks light up the night sky the audience will be encouraged to join in with all the classic Christmas favourites in a festive sing song led by the singing Christmas tree and members of Stockton’s Town Choir and male voice choir, Infant Hercules. X Factor star Kerrianne Covell will provide the perfect ending to the evening with an atmospheric rendition of Silent Night.

The launch of Stockton Sparkles marks the first night of Sparkles Christmas Market which this year will see it move onto the newly refurbished High Street for four days packed full of goodies perfect for Christmas gifts.  Late night shopping in Stockton Town Centre also starts on 27 November with shops open late each Thursday leading up to Christmas. Shoppers can also park for free after 3pm in any of the Council’s short stay car parks until the 31 January.

Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of Stockton Council, said: “Residents and visitors to Stockton Town Centre are in for a real treat this year with a UK premiere of the singing Christmas tree which promises to provide the most uplifting, energetic start to Christmas we’ve seen in years.

“Stockton’s sparkle will be brighter than ever with plenty of reasons to come into the newly regenerated High Street to do your Christmas shopping.  With the Sparkles Christmas Market, High Street favourites plus a wealth of independents there are plenty of places to pick up a gift or grab a bite to eat with friends and family.”

Councillor Ken Dixon, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: “With an array of local talent plus appearances from Stockton born favourites Kerrianne Covell and Richard Kilty we promise to provide a magical event set against the backdrop of the Town Centre’s fabulous 50ft tree, new decorations and lights.”

For more information about Stockton Sparkles’ exciting programme visit www.stockton.gov.uk/stocktonsparkles