Light magic - Rochdale’s big Christmas switch-on Sunday

Rochdale Riverside lit up by Christmas lights.
The location for the Rochdale switch-on will be the Rochdale Riverside retail and leisure complex. In addition to stunning Christmas lights there will be special light displays and live street theatre.

Published: 3 November 2022

Rochdale’s Christmas lights switch-on is back and the date has been revealed for the biggest and brightest party of the year.

The countdown to Christmas begins in Rochdale later this month as Rochdale Borough Council confirms a Christmas lights switch-on and lots of magical family entertainment on Sunday 20 November.

With the town hall still closed for refurbishment, the switch-on will be staged at the Rochdale Riverside retail and leisure complex. In addition to stunning Christmas lights there will be a series of special light displays and live street theatre from 3pm when the build up to the switch-on begins.

The Illumaphonium.

Illumaphonium, a huge interactive musical installation of over 100 chime bars which respond when touched with patterns of light and sound.

‘Lots of bright and colourful family entertainment’

From The Butts to Rochdale Riverside, visitors will see and hear spectacular illuminated street theatre and displays delivering a bright festive treat for all the family. These include Illumaphonium – a huge interactive musical installation of over 100 illuminated chime bars which respond when touched with patterns of light and sound. A giant disco ball ‘Compact Disco’ will bring lighthearted fun to the streets with sound-activated coloured lights and look out for ‘Jacks of Frost’ a very festive pair of sparkling entertainers on stilts. There will also be giant squirrels bringing more fun to the day - a favourite with children of all ages, Mr and Mrs Nutkin love everything about Christmas and are looking forward to being part of the event. Giant luminous angels performing to mesmerising music will be there along with ‘The Invisible man’ – a quirky street theatre show with jaw dropping special effects.

Inside Number One Riverside, Cartwheel Arts will be hosting festive craft workshops for families. Children will be able to create and decorate their own relaxing winter scent bag, including cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Outside there will be hot food, mulled wine and other seasonal drinks. 

Father Christmas, the mayor, Councillor Ali Ahmed and his special guests officially switch-on the lights at 4pm after the traditional countdown and free outdoor family entertainment continues until 5.30pm.

Christmas lights on The Esplanade in 2021.

Christmas lights on The Esplanade in Rochdale town centre in 2021.

Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for events said:

“As well as all the lights there will be lots of bright and colourful family entertainment across town for all the family. Last year was amazing and we’re hoping to top it this time with a spectacular Sunday afternoon. The switch-on is always a brilliant event and there will be something for everyone. It’s a chance to support local with our fantastic businesses and I invite everyone to come and join us.”

Rachel Byrne, centre manager for Rochdale Riverside added:

“This is a big day on the calendar and we’re excited to be working with the council to help kick off the Christmas countdown at Rochdale Riverside. We hope we can create an amazing experience for the people of Rochdale to come together and celebrate. It’s great to see the lights going up around town and such a magical moment when they first go on.”

Christmas switch-on events are also taking place in:

  • Heywood town centre – 3pm–5.30pm, Saturday, 19 November 2022. Organised by the Heywood Business Group.
  • Middleton town centre – 1pm–7pm, Saturday 19 November 2022. Organised by the Middleton Township.
  • Littleborough town centre – 3.30pm–6pm, Saturday 26 November 2022. Organised by the Littleborough Events and Associations Forum (LEAF).

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