Newport city centre will start the countdown to Christmas with a spectacular event packed with fun for all the family on Saturday, November 19.

Running from 3pm to 5.15pm, Countdown to Christmas will feature live music, fairground rides and celebrity guests, culminating in the official switching on of Newport’s city centre Christmas lights and a breath-taking fireworks display.

Organised by the Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) in partnership with Newport City Council, Friars Walk and Newport City Radio, Countdown to Christmas will mirror the BID’s hugely-successful pre-pandemic events with the main stage based at the junction of Charles Street and Commercial Street.

Last year’s event attracted more than 8,000 additional people into the city centre compared with an average Saturday.

Big-name musical acts will be on stage during the day along with local artists, and a special celebrity guest will be helping the city’s mayor Councillor Martyn Kellaway push the button to light up the city centre for the festive season.

There will be fairground rides along the riverfront and Commercial Street, and the event will culminate with the Christmas lights switch-on at 5pm followed by the fireworks display at 5.15pm.

Newport Now BID chairman Zep Bellavia said: “We are absolutely delighted to be delivering another Countdown to Christmas event for the businesses and people of Newport.

“As usual, we will be offering something for all the family and Countdown to Christmas marks the official start of the festive trading period for the city centre. There has never been a more important Christmas to go out and support your local businesses.

“We are sure families from across Newport and beyond will again visit the city centre for what promises to be a fantastic event packed with surprises.”

Councillor Jane Mudd, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “This year’s Countdown to Christmas event promises to be a great start to the festive season.

“It will also be a big boost for local businesses and that is extremely important at this challenging time. I hope people will “shop local” to support our retailers, restaurants, bars and leisure this Christmas.

“Last year, thousands of people came together to make it a very special occasion and I’m sure it will be the same this year. Many thanks to Newport Now and all those involved in organising and supporting the event.”

Friars Walk Centre Director, Simon Pullen, said: “Countdown to Christmas always generates a fantastic atmosphere in the city centre, and we’re delighted to be sponsoring the fireworks display which will help launch Newport into the festive season in style! This year we have new Christmas lights in Friars Walk, including a giant reindeer in John Frost Square which we’re excited to unveil at the event.

“Friars Walk will also be running a special Santa experience again this year. Our ‘Santa’s Studio’ was so popular last year that we’ll be bringing it back in December, with local families meeting Santa ‘virtually’ as he beams in from the North Pole! All proceeds will be donated to local charity, so do keep an eye on our website for more information soon!”

Newport City Radio managing director Ian Lamsdale said: “It’s more important than ever to support our local musicians.

“We’re grateful to Newport Now for allowing us at Newport City Radio to showcase developing talent and host the first hour of festivities. Please head down from the start to help us make some noise.”

More details about the event – including the special celebrity guest and other musical performers – will be revealed over the next few weeks.