Staffordshire celebrates at star studded Christmas light switch ons


Staffordshire celebrated the beginning of Christmas this week with two big Christmas light switch-on’s.

Spectators watched the story of a little girl who discovered the huge Christmas Dream Machine in Hanley, and Olympic gold medallist Joe Clarke switched on the lights in Stone.

Thousands of families gathered at Albion Square, Hanley to watch as Santa and his Christmas Dream Machine launched fireworks and presents to celebrate the beginning of Christmas.

The Christmas Dream Machine by Emergency Exit Arts. Images Courtesy of Andrew Billington Photography.

The Christmas Dream Machine by Emergency Exit Arts. Images Courtesy of Andrew Billington Photography.

Ava, a character from the story, flew around on a big bed last night as part of the Christmas lights switch on, and discovered a magical machine that makes presents.

“We adapted the show for Stoke-on-Trent so that it would mention all the places of the six towns, and the local landmarks and people that the little girl, Ava, knows.”

The show’s script was adapted to Stoke-on-Trent and mentioned local food such as oatcakes, local pubs and hot spots.

The name Ava was chosen for the main character as it is one of the most popular girls names in Stoke-on-Trent this year.

The event was commissioned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and The City Centre Partnership, working with Realis Estates and Appetite.

Appetite are an arts and events group that specialise in bringing culture and entertainment to Staffordshire all year round.

Events such as this boost the chances of Stoke-on-Trent becoming City of Culture Bid 2021.


An Olympic gold medallist and a Eurovision song contest entrant switched on Stone’s Christmas lights this year.

Joe Clarke and one half of this years Eurovision’s entry from Stoke-on-Trent, Jake Shakeshaft, illuminated the town centre with the push of a button.

The long awaited event started at 5pm and had a range of food outlets lining the street, stalls, sideshows, carnival rides, and games for all the family.

Jake Shakeshaft took to the stage at around 6.30pm and wowed the crowds with several renditions of current chart hits such as ‘Jonas Blue – Perfect Strangers’, which led up to the main event at 7pm.

Joe Clarke joined the singer on stage, sporting his infamous gold medal, along with the mayor and of course, Santa Claus, to press the big red button.

Joe Clarke and Jake Shakeshaft switch on Stone Christmas lights

Joe Clarke and Jake Shakeshaft switch on Stone Christmas lights

After teasing the crowds, the streets were soon decorated with strings of fairy lights, silver Christmas trees and a welcoming banner offering season’s greetings.

David Beaumont, 47, a JCB worker, visiting the event with his family told us: “We come most years with the kids, the stuff they put on is impressive, the food and the rides.

“I was surprised to see the lad off Eurovision, I was only expecting Joe, both the lads made it extra special.”

Carrying on the family fun, we spoke to Ray and Sheila Johnson, 67 and 64, who were visiting the Christmas celebrations with their grandchildren, explained how the efforts and size of the event reminded them of what they had when they were growing up.

“We loved bringing the kids so much, they loved the hook-a-duck.

“It just shows how the community can come together when celebrating.”

With only 37 sleeps until Christmas, Stone have well and truly got us excited for the annual visit from Santa.

For more information on both shows, check out the video below.


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