An estimated 15,000-strong crowd attended this year’s Carlisle Christmas lights switch-on.

The one and only Chesney Hawkes headlined the event, held in the city centre on Sunday, November 19.

He said prior to his performance that he met with fans, enjoyed a meal at the Old Bank, and bought chocolates from Castle Chocolates.

This wasn’t his first rodeo, having been called on for lights events ‘many, many times’, he is self-assuredly ‘very good at switching lights on’.

On the turnout, he said: “It’s wonderful, I really love the community spirit out here, people are having a great time together and it’s one of things I love about these events.

“I’m a big football man as well so I was talking to everyone about Carlisle United and how there’s a new influx of money coming in, it’s very exciting, like a new Wrexham!”

He sang his hits, but he’s also got a new EP coming out next spring called Living Arrows, produced by A-list producer Jake Gosling, and he’ll be touring extensively across the world.

There was also a guest appearance by Carlisle United manager Paul Simpson and saxophonist Vicki Watson took to the centre stage as part of this year’s packed programme, hosted by Robbie Dee.

News and Star: Vicki Watson performing at the eventVicki Watson performing at the event (Image: Ollie Rawlinson)

News and Star: Paul Simpson on stage with Robbie DeePaul Simpson on stage with Robbie Dee (Image: Ollie Rawlinson)

Simpson spoke of the event, after being greeted by chants of ‘Simo’ and giving his hope for more season wins: “The atmosphere is brilliant, I didn’t know there were this many people in Carlisle!

“This is the start of Christmas for everyone, there are so many troubles in the world at the moment so I hope it’s a brilliant Christmas for everyone.”

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Organised by Cumberland Council, the Christmas Lights Switch-On event also showcased local community groups and performers including Castle Carrock Primary School, Studio A Dance Company, Committed2Rock Community Choir and Newtown Primary School.

News and Star: Schoolchildren from Castle Carrock singing Christmas songsSchoolchildren from Castle Carrock singing Christmas songs (Image: Ollie Rawlinson)

Cllr Abdul Harid, Carlisle mayor, said: “I feel excited to see so many people here, great to see families come out, this is the start of the festive season and I’m absolutely delighted to be here.

“This is a time for families to get together, it puts our city on the map.”

Cllr Carni McCarron-Holmes, chair of Cumberland Council, spoke of the new council’s entertainment track record thus far: “It’s a wonderful achievement, one which will go down in history that is a first for Cumberland, and it’s been an absolute success with the numbers attending.

“These things have to be supported, people want them, and the council as far as it can will support them.”