Santa will ditch his reindeer for Grassmen’s John Deere when he is joined by Mayor Gowan and his special guest, Donkey from Grassmen for the official lights’ switch on in Lisburn next week (Thursday 23 November).

The countdown begins at 7pm when Santa and the Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Councillor Andrew Gowan will arrive at Market Square on a sleigh pulled by the Grassmen to perform the official ceremony. This key date in the Christmas calendar will kick off Lisburn’s festive celebrations when the city’s sparkling lights will be switched on as part of a fun-packed family evening. Farming sensations, Grassmen will be on hand to meet and greet, sign autographs and pose for photographs with the public.

There will also be entertainment in the form of stilt walkers and special Christmas characters as well as magical singing performances by Anahilt Primary School and some festive tunes from Dynamic Brass.

The switch-on will be followed by an Enchanted Lantern Walk where children will lead the way to Castle Gardens as part of the city’s traditional sparkling light display. Mayor Gowan, said: “Each year the Christmas lights transform the city centre, brightening up the dark nights and bringing the festive season to life. “The event is a great way for families and friends to enjoy this magical time of year and for many the lights switch-on event signals the start of the celebrations.

“I am delighted to be joined by my good friend, Donkey, from Grassmen, for this year’s event. Santa’s reindeer will have a well- earned rest before Christmas Eve as Santa and I will be on his sleigh pulled by one of the Grassmen’s impressive tractors.

“With lots of things to see and do in Lisburn and Castlereagh this Christmas I’d encourage everyone to come down and take advantage of the city’s fabulous festive offering.

”The event marks the start of our Light Festival which can be enjoyed by everyone until 22 December.

“There are also plenty of shops and restaurants to choose from to get those special Christmas presents for your loved ones or why not grab a bite to eat. Local businesses really value your support at this time of year."