Brighton-born national television presenter Holly Willoughby has today been unveiled as the surprise celebrity who will turn on the spectacular Christmas light display at the Clock Tower on Thursday 16 November.
Holly, recently nominated in the best presenter category for the children’s Baftas, presents Holly and Stephen’s Saturday Show on ITV and will be back on our screens in January with a brand new series of Dancing on Ice.
Holly, who was raised in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, and attended Burgess Hill School for Girls, was spotted and signed up at the age of 14 by the Storm model agency. She soon became the queen of teen magazines and by 17 was the face of the Pretty Polly campaign.
Holly’s first job in TV was part of S Club TV. She became hooked from the start but her career began when she was taken on as a children’s BBC presenter. This lead to a switch to ITV as a children’s presenter on the Ministry of Mayhem, soon to be changed to the Holly and Stephen’s Saturday Show.
The lights display which will be switched on by Holly, is funded by the Brighton BID (Business Improvement District) and will be the best Christmas lights ever put up in the city. The lights have been designed by Blachere, the company that creates light displays for the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Andrew Fisher, chairman of the BID board, said: “We are delighted that Holly, a born-and-bred Brighton girl and national TV star, will be switching on the Christmas lights in Brighton this year. We know that Holly is as passionate as we are about raising the profile of the Brighton BID area ensuring we are always on the map as a must-visit destination!”
At 6pm, an innovative 'ceiling of light' will be turned on at the Clock Tower at the junction of West Street and North Street. A special design has been created to ensure the groundbreaking display can attach to the Grade I listed structure without damaging it in any way.
From here, a small procession including a sleigh and real-life reindeer will slowly proceed into North Street, turning on the lights above as they pass underneath. The reindeer are specially trained and used to working with crowds, traffic and noise.
‘Elves’ will lead the sleigh into the North Laine, accompanied by live music and a ‘Present Fairy’, who will collect letters addressed to Father Christmas from children along the route. Roads will be pedestrianised along the procession route to allow shoppers to walk around easily and for families to enjoy the magic of the Christmas sleigh.
The procession will finish on East Street in the Lanes, where the reindeer will be put into a pen so children can feed them and pose for photos.
Both the North Laine and the Lanes will be filled with choirs, bands and performers. There will be Christmas-themed displays and hot chestnut sellers. Shops will be staying open late, with many traders offering special discounts and promotions for customers. Some shops will be giving away free mulled wine and mince pies and some staff will be dressed in Christmas-themed costumes.
There will also be a children’s treasure hunt in the Lanes organised by Donatello Restaurant.
The Brighton BID includes North Street and parts of the North Laine and the Lanes. It is a new initiative where traders join together to raise funds to pay for improvements to their areas that they have requested. Traders in the Brighton BID have already committed approximately £300,000 to fund the Christmas lights.
The Clock Tower display has received extra funding from Southern Water and construction company Clancy Docwra.
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