X Factor singer James Arthur has been revealed as the star of this year’s Christmas lights extravaganza in Perth.
The chart-topper will be joined on stage by compere and Catchphrase presenter Stephen Mulhern.
Perth and Kinross Council made the surprise announcement on Friday night. Bosses also confirmed they had ruled against proposals to charge revellers to attend next month’s show.
At least one other top music star has still to be announced for the event.
James Arthur, who has recently been re-signed by Simon Cowell’s Syco entertainment firm, won the ninth series of the STV talent show in 2012.
It emerged earlier this year that the council was considering introducing an admission fee for the switch-on ceremony, as part of a wider effort to generate more money from festive events.
The local authority set an undisclosed income target for the event and officers are still hoping to make money through sponsorship deals.
The switch-on ceremony is the centrepiece of the city’s burgeoning Winter Festival, which kicks off with Halloween activities later this month.
Officers were worried that charging for entry could deter families from attending.
The 2017 show, starring Alesha Dixon and 70s chart-toppers Mud, attracted a record crowd of nearly 80,000 and made nearly £2 million for the local economy.
Councillor Angus Forbes, Convener of Environment and Infrastructure Committee, said: “The Perth Christmas Lights Switch-On is a highlight of the area’s annual events calendar. Perth truly is the place to be to kick off the festive season.
“The lights switch on remains free in 2018 as part of the council’s commitment to deliver excellent events which animate the city centre and attract visitors and their spending power to Perth to support local businesses and the tourism industry.”
The council spent nearly £190,000 on the party, which was spread across three stages and featured more than 30 acts and performers.
This week, councillors agreed to invest £40,000 of Common Good Fund money into the event. It will pay for stages, street entertainers and a festive parade, as well as health and safety features such as stewards, toilets and medical cover.
Asking about charging admission for Winter Festival events, executive director Barabara Renton said in March: “There is a delicate balance in terms of maintaining the number of people and introducing a charge.
“It is also about considering government arrangements about how we can do that.”
A poll taken by the Courier at the time found overwhelming resistance to the idea.
This year’s show will be held on Saturday November 17.