CHART-TOPPING choir Only Men Aloud and musical theatre star Sophie Evans will perform at Newport's Countdown to Christmas event next weekend.

The group, which was formed in 2000 and appeared on the BBC's Last Choir Standing in 2008, will headline the event - which will see the city centre's Christmas lights switched on by a yet-to-be-revealed star - on Saturday, November 16.

Alongside them will be Ms Evans, who was the youngest person ever to play Glinda in Wicked, was Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s West End production of The Wizard of Oz in 2012, and has toured with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance show.


Rising Newport rock star Jack Perrett will also play a set on stage, and cast members from the Riverfront Theatre’s Cinderella pantomime will also make an appearance.

The star guest who will be switching on the city’s Christmas lights will be revealed next week. Last year Manchester United and Wales football legend Ryan Giggs did the honours.

Countdown to Christmas, which is organised by the Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) in partnership with Newport City Council, Friars Walk, Kingsway and Newport City Radio, runs from 2pm to 5.30pm in the city centre. Internet-based community radio station Newport City Radio will host the stage for the first hour of the event, putting the spotlight on up and coming local artists.

From 3pm Heart radio presenters Jagger and Woody will host before Newport’s Christmas lights are switched on at 5.15pm by Newport Mayor Cllr Will Routley and a star guest. The event culminates in a spectacular fireworks display from the roof of the Kingsway car park at 5.30pm.

The event will also include fairground rides along Commercial Street, High Street and the riverfront.

Father Christmas will be making an appearance, and there will be costume characters on parade in Commercial Street and High Street with children’s face painters also in attendance.

In Friars Walk there will be a giant Christmas chair for families and friends to try out, and Santa’s Grotto will also be open throughout the day in the Kingsway Centre.

High Street and Griffin Street will be closed to all vehicles from 5pm on Friday, November 15, until 11.59pm on Saturday, November 16, while Commercial Street (between Skinner Street and Charles Street) and Charles Street (between Talbot Lane and Commercial Street) will be closed from 6am to 9pm on the Saturday.