Santa Claus has switched Newcastle’s Christmas lights on from the top of Grey’s Monument as thousands of North East families joined in from home.
The Newcastle City Council Lights Switch on event usually takes place in the city centre in front of several thousand people.
But with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions preventing the festive event from going ahead this year, Metro Radio organised a virtual switch-on instead.
Breakfast show presenters Steve and Karen, who normally host the event, were joined by thousands of families watching on Facebook at home - and a special guest in the city centre.
Joining Steve and Karen via Zoom, Santa Claus linked in from the top of Grey’s Monument and pushed a button to turn on Newcastle’s lights.
Before the switch-on on Tuesday evening, the presenters called several North East families to ensure they were all ready to switch on their own Christmas tree lights at the same time as Santa turned on thousands of twinkles across the city.
Marie Gee, a maternity department worker at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, featured in the video stream wearing a festive turkey hat, along with her son Danny and daughter Kate.
She said: “We normally go to the lights switch-on in Newcastle, so it was great that Steve and Karen organised this, and for us to be involved in the event with so many other families. We’ll be heading into the city centre to see the lights once lockdown has finished.”
Steve Furnell who hosted the virtual event said: “Obviously we were disappointed not to be on stage in the city centre like we normally do but this was still a great way to get everyone together to enjoy turning on their lights.
“With everyone putting up their trees earlier this year it was perfect timing to get people to join us.”
Coun Ged Bell, cabinet member for Employment and Culture, said: “Christmas is obviously very different this year, and we are disappointed that the Christmas lights switch-on and other events can’t go ahead as normal.
“But obviously stopping the spread of Covid has to be our priority so we need to prevent people from gathering.
“When Metro Radio approached us with their idea of a virtual switch-on we were happy to help them out as it meant people would still be able to enjoy this from the safety and comfort of their own home.
“We hope everyone who joined online enjoyed this and we very much look forward to welcoming you back to the city centre for the Christmas 2021 event. In the meantime, we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas.”