The countdown to Christmas in Portsmouth’s main shopping areas will be officially marked with a range of magical events from Christmas Lights Switch On Parties, Christmas markets, a Victorian Christmas, and the return of Portsmouth on Ice.

The festive family fun begins on Thursday 16 November with the city centre Christmas Lights Switch On Party and the opening of the Portsmouth Christmas Market. The Christmas Lights Switch On Parties are hosted by Wave 105’s Mark Collins and features stars from the city’s pantomimes and Christmas shows alongside a special appearance of Father Christmas and snowflake finale.

Stars from the Kings Theatre’s Hook – The Further Adventures of Peter Pan, Shaun Williamson, better known as “Barry” from Eastenders and TOWIE favourite James ‘Arg’ Argent will be there to make the magic happen. In Southsea on Thursday 23 November, stars from the New Theatre Royal’s Aladdin will conjure up the surprises and in Cosham High Street, magic will be created by the Guildhall’s cast of Rapunzel.

For Christmas shopping, the Portsmouth Christmas Market in Commercial Road will be selling festive treats such as German sausages, glühwein, Christmas stockings and tree decorations. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays the market offers even more including fresh produce, gift ideas, clothing, and seasonal products for a great Christmas. The We Create Market returns on 9 & 10  December in the former Dorothy Perkins shop in Cascades and will be transformed into a festive wonderland filled with locally crafted gifts and unique items.

Councillor Steve Pitt, Leader of the council with responsibility for Economic Development said:

” I am delighted that we can countdown to Christmas with such a celebration of talent from our professional venues supported by a great cast of community choirs, festive music, and dancing.

Our high streets remain brilliant places to get together, join in the festive fun and of course for Christmas supporting our local businesses and markets.”

New for this year, the Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery will be transformed into a Victorian Christmas. There will be Victorian games for children to do alongside meeting the star of the show, Father Christmas in his beautiful grotto, on weekends in December and every day during the school holidays.

Portsmouth on Ice, the real rink in Guildhall Square, which guarantees skating whatever the weather, will be open from Saturday 25 November until Sunday 7 January.

For the full programme and local shopping ideas visit