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Countdown to Christmas Lights Switch On in Middlesbrough

By Published November 14, 2023

The official countdown to Christmas is on and there’s a whole host of magical festive family events lined up in Middlesbrough throughout November and December. 

Highlights include the Christmas Lights Switch On, A Festive Night at the Movies, the return of the popular Walking with the Snowman trail and the Christmas edition of Orange Pip Market.

The main event in the festive calendar takes place on Sunday, November 19, when the town’s twinkly Christmas lights will be officially switched on in Centre Square in association with Everyone Active in Middlesbrough.

The stars of the Cinderella panto at Middlesbrough Theatre, which includes Middlesbrough’s own Amelia Lily, will join BBC Radio Tees presenter Gary Philipson to switch on the lights at 5.30pm.

During the Switch On, Middlesbrough will be giving a ‘One Big Boro Thank You’ to those special people within the local community who have made a real difference.

It could be an act of kindness or someone who’s done something amazing to help others or improve their local community. Nominations are now open to put forward a shining star by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

As part of the big family day out which starts from noon, local community groups, musicians and choirs will come together to perform a giant ‘Big Sing’ full of classic Christmas anthems. Gift stall huts, tasty street food and fairground rides will also be on offer.

Alongside the switch on, the Town Hall’s Classical Café is hosting festive performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker at 3pm.

On Saturday, November 18, families are encouraged to wrap up warm, bring portable chairs and blankets and settle in for a screening of the much-loved Christmas film, Elf, which will play on Centre Square’s big screen. It’s a free event taking place from 5pm and is suitable for all ages.

During the same weekend, the popular Walking with the Snowman trail returns featuring twelve giant sculptures. Visitors can take a wintry wander around town centre shopping centres and venues to spot the beautifully decorated figures until early January.

Saturday, December 16 sees Middlesbrough’s favourite artisan market, Orange Pip return for a festive edition at the Town Hall. Live music, the best in local food and drink and independent traders will be on hand for those seeking last-minute stocking fillers.

Councillor Philippa Storey, Middlesbrough’s Deputy Mayor and Executive member for Culture & Education, said: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year and we’re encouraging everyone to join in with the festivities in the town centre.

“We’ve got a fantastic line-up of events and there really is something for everyone to enjoy.

“The Christmas Lights Switch On is always popular with families and we’ve got the new edition of A Festive Night at the Movies to truly get people into the Christmas spirit!” 

Alongside the events in the town centre, Middlesbrough’s venues have lots on offer this festive season. Christmas at Newham Grange Farm takes place between December 2 and 24, where you can meet real life Christmas characters, attend the elf workshop and watch a mini panto.

The Dorman Museum plays host to a Christmas Extravaganza Weekend on December 2 and 3 featuring creative activities, a craft market and one of the only chances to meet Santa for free in Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough Theatre’s magical panto, Cinderella, takes to the stage between December 8 and January 7 and Philip Green returns for yet another year as Buttons.

In December, there is plenty of live entertainment lined-up at Middlesbrough Town Hall including a trio of dates from Big Mouth Comedy Club and Kidz Sounds perform hits from the biggest names in pop on Friday, December 29. 

As well as an exciting line-up of events, visitors can also take advantage of late-night shopping evenings in the run up to Christmas. Many of the town centre’s shopping centres including the Cleveland Centre will be opening their doors until 7pm from Thursday, December 7.

Several Middlesbrough Council town centre car parks will offer free parking every weekend and during Bank Holidays throughout the festive period.

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