Forget Santa’s elves, Sunderland hosted a festive Pixie for the annual Christmas lights switch on.
Pop star Pixie Lott performed to a packed Keel Square before flicking the switch to mark the start of the festive season in the city centre.
She was joined on stage for the countdown by Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Doris MacKnight, and Simon and Danni from Sun FM’s breakfast show.
Pixie had been due to perform in the city earlier this year to celebrate the radio station’s 20th anniversary but had to cancel due to a scheduling clash.
Speaking to the Echo, The Voice coach said: “I was gutted I had to cancel before but I’m here now and it makes it extra special that it’s Christmas. “It’s my favourite time of year. I love anything festive that spreads the love. I remember going to switch on events when I was a kid, but they were never as massive as this.”
The pop star performed a set featuring hits All About Tonight and Boys and Girls, before getting everyone in the spirit with some festive tracks including Dreaming of a White Christmas, and closing with her latest single Won’t Forget You.
Speaking about her trip to the city, she said: “I don’t think I’ve ever been to Sunderland before but I’ve been learning about it today and the City of Culture 2021 bid, which would be great. I’ve also learnt that people here are called Mackems!”
The switch on capped off an afternoon of community entertainment, supporting the NSPCC and its Light Up Christmas for Children Campaign.
Now the lights are on, Keel Square is preparing to welcome the ice rink, which will be running from November 30 to January 7.
It will kick off with a gala event next Thursday, November 30, where professional solo skaters Gary Beacom and Lisa Brewin will officially open the rink - and show how it should be done.
There will also be a programme of activities at the square throughout the festive period.