Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Olympic heros and Hollyoaks star set for Christmas tree switch-on

Scooby-doo will have some work to do when he arrives in Belfast next week. The world-famous hound will be taking time out from ghostbusting to help kick off Christmas celebrations in the city on Tuesday, November 18 from 7.30pm.

And the TV star won’t be the only hero on stage that night, as he’ll be joined by Paralympics gold medallist Michael McKillop, Olympics silver medallist Wendy Houvenaghal and bronze medallist Paddy Barnes.

Completing the big Christmas tree switch-on will be Hollyoaks star Gerard McCarthy and X Factor finalists Same Difference.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Tom Hartley, announced details of this year’s Christmas programme as the tree, a 45ft tall Norway spruce from Hillsborough Forest Park, was moved into position outside the City Hall yesterday.

“The switching on of the Christmas lights is always a great night for all the family, and this year promises to be just that little bit special,” said Councillor Hartley. “Over the years, we have attracted many

top stars to appear at Belfast’s switch on, and I am particularly delighted that this year we will be using the event to honour the remarkable achievements of three of the local heroes from Beijing earlier this year.”

Paddy Barnes, Belfast’s first Olympic boxing medallist since Wayne McCullough, said he was looking forward to being part of a very special evening.

“The reaction to my success has been phenomenal, and it still really hasn’t sunk in. If you had told me when I first started boxing that not only would I win a medal at the Olympics but that I also would be helping to switch on Belfast’s Christmas lights, I’d never have believed you. It’s going to be a great night.”

Special guest compere for the evening will be Belfast-born actor Gerard McCarthy. He said: “As a kid growing up in the city, I always looked forward to it, as it means that Christmas is just around the corner.

“Being asked to take part this year is just such an enormous thrill.”

Music will be provided by last year’s X Factor finalists, brother and sister pop duo, Same Difference, who will be performing songs from their debut album, due for release at the start of December.

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