THOUSANDS of people are expected to join a seasonal procession through the city centre, as details of Oxford’s festive celebrations are revealed. More than 29,000 took part in last year’s Christmas Light Night, with a lantern parade, stalls and entertainment, and this year the event is being staged over two nights.

The Christmas lights switch-on takes place on Thursday, November 22, with city traders opening late to offer Christmas shopping opportunities.

Christmas Light Night will take place the next night with the children’s lantern procession, supported by MINI Plant Oxford. A stage in St Giles will feature singing and dancing with further events planned at the city’s cultural venues.

City council cultural development manager, Ceri Gorton, said: “The procession was fantastic last year and by keeping the event in St Giles it means many more people can enjoy the procession as it weaves through the streets of Oxford.

“We are looking forward to the workshops across the city where hundreds of local school children will be involved.”

The night will include more than 300 schoolchildren taking part in the artist-led workshops and in the procession.

Inspired by a theme of the ‘frozen planet,’ artists will work with the children to create lanterns designed by Witney artist Paul Batten.

Christmas Light Night is being co-ordinated by Oxford Inspires, Oxford City Council and Ian Nolan Events.

Jacqui Ibbotson, head of culture at cultural development agency Oxford Inspires, said: “Christmas Light Night is a successful partnership event.

“We work closely with dozens of cultural organisations, performers, artists, community groups and dance groups to deliver a magical evening that celebrates the richness of local arts and culture.

“We hope to attract large audiences and launch the holiday season by helping to light up the county town.”

Rebecca Baxter, external communications manager at MINI Plant Oxford, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this event again. It’s something the whole community can get involved with.

“We’re looking forward to building upon the hands-on work that our employees undertook last year working with participating schools to help children build their lanterns.”

Events on both nights will run from 5pm to 10pm with the lantern procession starting at the Old Fire Station in Gloucester Green at 6.15pm and ending with a grand finale in St Giles.