THE COUNTDOWN to Christmas will start with a bang (and we don’t just mean the fireworks).

Following the success of last year, Newport city centre will be taken over with a spectacular array of entertainment for the Countdown to Christmas, on November 17.

The festivities start at 12pm, ahead of the Christmas lights being officially switched on at 5.15pm, followed by fireworks - from Kingsway car park - at 5.30pm.

Newport City Council Leader, Cllr Debbie Wilcox, said: “It’s exciting that we have another great afternoon’s entertainment in the city centre to look forward to before the traditional switching on of the lights and a fabulous firework display.

"Countdown to Christmas will have something for all ages to enjoy and I hope as many people as possible will join in the festive fun.”

The day will feature live music - from X Factor stars and local artists - cartoon characters, and fair rides, open along the riverfront, Commercial Street, and High Street.

Once again a celebrity guest will help the Mayor of Newport turn on the lights; last year this was former Wales football team manager, Chris Coleman. This year it's still to be announced.

This event it organised by the Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID), in partnership with Newport City Council, Friars Walk, Kingsway Centre and Newport City Radio.

Friars Walk Centre Director, Simon Pullen, said: "With a fantastic programme of entertainment and events throughout the day for the entire family, it really is a bumper day of activity in the city."

A giant inflatable snow globe will be featured at Friars Walk on the day, and Santa's Grotto will be open in Kingsway.

Newport Now BID manager, Kevin Ward, said: “Our Saturday events over the last two years have been hugely successful, with thousands of people enjoying the day.

“We are sure families from across Newport and beyond will again visit the city centre for what promises to be a fantastic event packed with surprises.”

This is the latest in a series of events organised or funded by Newport Now Bid, a company made up of more than 400 city centre businesses.

Newport Now Bid have also organised a month-long German-style Christmas Market, in Commercial Street, open from November 19 to December 22.

You can read more about it here.