More information has been revealed about this year's virtual Christmas lights celebration. All the borough's switch-on events had to be cancelled due to coronavirus (COVID-19) but Rochdale Borough Council has announced plans to stream an online version for the very first time, marking the start of the festive season.
This November, the mayor, Councillor Billy Sheerin, will host the virtual event from the mayor's parlour at the town hall, with a guest appearance from Father Christmas himself and a special synchronised 'from home' performance by Rochdale Music Service. You'll also be able to see the illuminated displays, cribs and Christmas trees twinkling right across the borough.
The virtual switch-on event will be free to watch at 6pm on Sunday, 29 November 2020.
'Much needed Christmas cheer'
The council is also appealing for families, residents and communities across the borough to submit video clips or images of their Christmas light displays and preparations at home so they can feature in a dazzling montage that will be released in December. Whether you're dressing and lighting your tree at home, having fairy lights or lanterns in your doorway, garden or windows, email your photo or video to
email@example.com by Sunday, 6 December 2020.
Then following the virtual switch-on, later in December the council will release another video showing residents preparing for Christmas at home along with a seasonal reflection of 2020 featuring members of Rochdale's M6 Theatre Company.
Councillor Sheerin said he hopes everyone will watch the virtual switch-on celebration and then get involved by submitting their own clips and photos:
"We really look forward to seeing all the videos and images submitted and are excited to see the finished result which hopefully will bring much needed Christmas cheer. After such a tough time it's important we come together and being able to see how people across the borough are getting ready for Christmas is hopefully a way to remind us all we're still connected and better times are ahead."
The mayor is also asking everyone to ring a bell for Santa at 6pm on Christmas Eve, Thursday, 24 December 2020. Along the same lines as summer's 'clap for carers', the idea is to step outside your front door and ring a bell for 2 minutes to spread Christmas spirit and for children to thank Father Christmas as he sets off on his epic journey around the world.
"Despite the pandemic, Father Christmas is a key worker and his elves have managed to come out of furlough, so after the year we've had it would be lovely for our community and create wonderful memories for children. I hope we can end 2020 with hope, optimism and togetherness," the mayor added.