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  • Writer's pictureSouthend BID

Thousands attend Our Christmas Switch On!

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

Record crowds turn out for Southend’s Big Switch On

Thousands flock to see stars and illuminations light up town centre

Huge crowds braved the cold on Saturday (16 November) to enjoy a fun-packed day of free entertainment as Southend-on-Sea got its Christmas celebrations underway with its annual Big Switch On event.

The Royals and Victoria shopping centres got things underway at 11am with family-orientated arts and crafts activities, followed by BBC Essex showcasing talented local performers on the Visit Southend stage in Royals Square.

Popular local radio presenter Dom Atkins also introduced a fabulous line-up of acts, before handing the mic’ to legendary breakfast show presenters, Martin Day and Su Harrison - famous for hosting Europe’s longest running radio show presented by a duo.

As the countdown to turning on the High Street’s striking illuminations began, they were joined on stage by Eastenders actor Ricky Champ and The Voice sensation, Sarah Tucker.

Commenting on the size of the crowd, Ricky, who plays Stuart Highway in the long-running BBC soap, said: “I was shocked at how many people were there. I used to come and watch the lights getting turned on with my brothers, when I was little. It has always felt like a special nostalgic thing, so for me to actually do it this year was really lovely. Thank you to all my fellow Southendians for coming along and making it a very special experience.”

After their hit Heart Essex radio show ended back in May, Southend BID reunited Martin and Su especially for the Big Switch On and for Su, it was an emotional experience: “What a great night! We had such a fab time and it was amazing seeing so many people there. It was a lot of fun being back together again, doing what we love to do and it was so nice to have so many people come and talk to us.”

Martin shared her sentiments: “It was a great day and felt like we’d never been apart. It was an amazing turnout. I just hope we can make a few people happy by getting back on air.”

Su then teased: “We will be back on the radio very soon. So, watch this space!”

For Southend BID Manager, Suzanne Gloyne, the 2019 Big Switch On proved to be a massive success: "It was an incredible turn-out this year! The number of people who came to show their support for the town and our businesses, whilst taking part in the full day of events was outstanding. The BID team and our partners all pulled together to put on an amazing day, jam-packed with exciting, free activities throughout the High Street. There were lots of happy kids proudly taking home their works of art from the free crafts events, the new Busking Bus was a brilliant addition for local artists and we had great performances on both of our stages.”

Suzanne added: “You could feel the festive buzz as the crowd eagerly awaited the switch on itself and watching their enjoyment as the ‘snow’ fluttered down as the lights started twinkling was fantastic. Topping everything off was this year’s fireworks finale which, for me, really was the cherry on top.”

Southend BID’s Big Switch On would like to thank its partners Caddies, Energie Fitness, the Royals Shopping Centre, Southend Adult Community College and the Victoria Shopping Centre.

For more information, click on, like the Facebook page VisitSouthendonSea or follow @VisitSouthend on Twitter.


Please contact Adam Jones at Brera – 01702 216 658 / 07818 061 503 / /


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