At least 80,000 people are expected to descend on Perth today as the Fair City Christmas lights are switched on.
Chart-toppers Pixie Lott and James Arthur are expected to pull in what is hoped will be the biggest crowd seen at a Perth Christmas festival event.
The show is the centrepiece of the council’s Winter Festival. Last year’s festivities pulled in 80,000 people, with the help of headline act Alesha Dixon.
It is hoped Saturday’s switch on will have similar success.
Perth and Kinross Council leader Murray Lyle said: “Perth Christmas lights switch on is the highlight of the Winter Festival calendar, with tens of thousands of people expected to flock into the city today for Scotland’s biggest free Christmas party.
“Whether you’re coming for the daytime entertainment and the Christmas parade or the live performances from Pixie Lott and James Arthur, there truly is something for everyone.
“Last year’s switch-on event attracted 80,000 people into the city – that’s 80,000 opportunities to welcome people to the city and give them an experience that they will never forget.
“I fully expect that with this year’s excellent line-up that we’ll at least match that audience figure this weekend.
“Every new visitor Winter Festival brings is a visitor we should be welcoming with open arms, to make sure that they know Perth is a place to return to time and time again.”
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Environment and infrastructure convener Angus Forbes said: “The 2017 Winter Festival events brought an additional economic impact for Perth of £1.8 million.
“That’s a fantastic return on the investment the council makes in staging these events. With competition from online retailers it’s important to something which people can’t get anywhere else.
“Perth Christmas Lights Switch-On gives us an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, and offers an experience that you simply won’t want to miss.”
The party begins at 10am when the Chocolate and Gin street festival opens on George Street.
At lunchtime, entertainment begins on the two smaller stages, in King Edward Street and Horsecross Plaza, which will also be home to Santa’s Grotto and ice caves.
The main stage in Tay Street will be opened by local band Longstay at 2.30pm.
A Christmas parade will snake through the city centre at 5.30pm, before the lights are finally switched on at 6.15pm, followed by fireworks.
Pixie Lott is due to perform at 7pm, followed by headline act James Arthur at 7.40pm.
The party will continue on Sunday with Perth Festive Feast, featuring the finale of the Great Perthshire Soup Competition and day two of the Perth Chocolate and Gin Festival.
There had been concerns that the council would charge for the event for the first time but this was ruled out earlier this year.
A poll taken by The Courier at the time found overwhelming resistance to the idea.
10am – Chocolate and gin street festival opens, George Street
12pm – Street entertainment and stages open in King Edward Street and Horsecross Plaza.
12pm – Santa’s Grotto and ice caves open in ***
2.30pm –Perth band Longstay open the main stage in Tay Street.
5.30pm – Christmas parade starts at Thimblerow, travelling to Speygate via South Street.
6.15pm – Christmas lights switch on and Fireworks in Tay Street
6.20pm – Stephen Mulhern welcomes the crowd
6.35 pm – The Village People Experience
7.00 pm – Pixie Lott
7.40 pm – James Arthur
8.30pm – Main stage closes
9pm – Santa’s grotto, ice caves and chocolate and gin festival close.