FIREWORKS, dance stars and street theatre will be on offer as Darlington's Christmas lights switch-on takes place on Sunday.

Strictly Come Dancing star Shirley Ballas, who is playing Mother Nature in this year's Darlington Hippodrome panto Jack and the Beanstalk, will be switching on the lights on Sunday, November 24.

She will be helped by panto villain Fleshcreep, played by Daniel Taylor.

Santa and his helpers will be there to get the crowd going from 4pm and the TFM roadshow with breakfast presenters, Steve and Karen, will be there to make sure everyone enjoys the festive fun.

Street theatre, live performances, games and competitions will add to the fun which ends with the switch-on followed by fireworks at 5.30pm.

This will be the first time the switch on has taken place on a Sunday and will allow for people to take advantage of Sunday shopping and the free parking that is now in place on Sunday in all council run and on street car parking areas.

Panto star Shirley said: “I am really excited and honoured to switch the lights on in Darlington and to spread the sparkle and joy of Christmas in the town.

"I love this time of year, especially the panto, and I love the festive atmosphere that lights bring to a town centre, it is a magical time”

Marion Ogle, Darlington Borough Council’s town centre partnership and events manager, said: “Last year thousands of people came along to the big switch on and we are hoping that many more will be able to enjoy the event this year because it’s now on a Sunday.

"It’s a great family day out and a chance to enjoy all that the town has to offer and, of course, take advantage of the free parking offer we now have.”

Workers were putting the finishing touches to the town's Christmas tree on Joseph Pease place at the weekend, with a cherry picker helping them decorate it with lights.

The switch-on is the first in a full programme of events lined up for the festive season.

December will see the return of the popular Christmas Markets from December 5-7 and the return of the popular Ice Sculpture Trail on Saturday, December 7.

More details are available by visiting or via Facebook from #LoveDarlo

A copy of the #LoveDarlo Christmas events guide is now available to pick up at the Dolphin Centre, Cornmill Centre, Crown Street library and the indoor market as well as being available online at