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CommunityFire and festivities as Christmas countdown starts in Rochdale

Fire and festivities as Christmas countdown starts in Rochdale

The countdown to Christmas began in Rochdale on Sunday with thousands of people attending Ignite Fire Festival and the Christmas Lights Switch-On at the town hall.

Over the weekend 10,500 people enjoyed the council-organised event which included a new two-day fire festival, leading up to the big switch-on at the town hall on Sunday evening.

Ignite Fire Festival transformed the gardens opposite Rochdale Town Hall with two free colourful night-time spectaculars featuring a dazzling trail of fire and lights along with live entertainment.

Visitors walked through displays, blazing sculptures and magical illuminated installations created by artists from the UK and abroad, including flame arches, a striking ‘Eyeful Tower’ of fire and flame throwing, a musical fire tree along with an assortment of other fire based attractions.

Packed crowd

Street theatre and interactive arts group Travelling Light Circus performed shows to packed crowds featuring live fire juggling, torch spinning and dance, along with local residents who had been trained especially for the event.

Drum Machine – a 20 strong drumming collective played throughout the event to add to the dramatic atmosphere. Earlier each day they also hosted sold-out drumming workshops at Deeplish Community Centre, teaching local residents how it’s done.

For young children there was a lantern making workshop at The Medicine Tap hosted by local social enterprise ‘Artful’ with many attendees taking their homemade lantern to the switch-on.

Street food

Sizzling festive street food was served up for the big crowds waiting for the switch on, with Middleton Arena’s Jack and the Beanstalk Christmas pantomime star Dame Trott (Danny Jay) introducing proceedings just after 5pm alongside his Fairy co-star (Hayley Russell).

On stage they led festive sing-alongs before the mayor councillor Mike Holly greeted the audience, followed by Father Christmas.  Finally special guests, the borough’s children’s champions Harry Milne, Maisy Heaton and deputy Ayaan Khan took to the stage to wish everyone a merry Christmas before flicking the switch and turning on the lights for 2023.

After the lights started twinkling there was more music and a very eye-catching fire display followed by another rousing performance by Drum Machine, while Ignite Fire Festival continued into the evening.

The Mayor said: “The crowds were magnificent all weekend, the weather was kind to us and it was great to see so much support for these events and to be back at our wonderful town hall after four years away.

“Seeing the lights go on and the countdown to Christmas begin was wonderful, and the fire festival really made it a unique event. The mayoress and I wish you all a merry Christmas and hope to see you back in Rochdale town centre over the coming weeks.”

A first for Rochdale

Councillor Janet Emsley said the event was a first for Rochdale and something a lot of visitors appreciated.

Ignite was organised by Rochdale Borough Council in partnership with Out There Arts – the National Centre for Outdoor Arts & Circus and Culture Co-op, a ‘Creative People and Places’ programme, funded by Arts Council England.




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