THE first of York’s Christmas lights will be switched on tonight at the Coppergate Centre.

The shopping centre off Coppergate will be marking its first evening of late night Christmas shopping with live entertainment, competitions and giveaways.

A spokesman said the evening’s entertainment will kick off at 5.30pm with the choir of Appleton Roebuck Primary School.

“BBC Radio York’s Anna Wallace and Adam Tomlinson will be joined on stage by some of the cast of the Rowntree Players’ Aladdin and contact juggler, York’s Icicle King,” he said.

“York’s own diva, Velma Celli – the drag persona of York-born West End performer, Ian Stroughair, will perform some seasonal numbers to get all of the evening shoppers into the Christmas spirit.”

He said the the lights switch-on ceremony was planned for about 6.25pm.

Centre manager Pippa Unwin said: “This should be a great evening of family fun to get York’s Christmas season off to a great start.

“We’re delighted that Adam and Anna will be back with us for the second year, and we’ve got some great entertainment lined up with the captivating Icicle King and powerhouse vocals of Velma Celli.”

She said that every Thursday and Friday evening from today until Christmas, shoppers would be able to park free of charge in the Piccadilly Car Park from 6pm to 9pm, organised by York BID.

Many of the stores in Coppergate would remain open for evening shopping every Thursday, including Fenwick, Topshop and Primark, with a special week-long late night opening from December 18 – 23.

She said the regular Coppergate stores would be joined by chalets for the St Nicholas Fair, which starts on November 16.

For more details of Christmas opening times of the stores in Coppergate, people can go to

As reported previously, the Christmas tree lights in St Helen’s Square will be switched on next Thursday evening by panto stars Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass.

They will be joined by BBC presenter Clare Frisby and the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Barbara Boyce, from 6pm.

Clare will lead the traditional countdown to illuminating the St Leonard’s Hospice ‘Light up a Life’ Christmas Tree outside the Mansion House and Christmas lights around the square, accompanied by Lucy’s Pop Choir and the Shepherd’s Brass Band.

The event will mark the first night of late night shopping and the city’s St Nicholas Fair.

This year will also see a new ‘Christmas in the Museum Gardens’ experience and thousands of LED lights lighting up historic bar walls.

Lendal and Ouse bridges will also be lit for the first time in the biggest city-wide lighting scheme yet.