NOW that Bonfire Night is out of the way, the festive season is just around the corner.
And what better way to see in the festive period than attending a spectacular Christmas lights switch-on event?

Newport's Countdown to Christmas kicks off this weekend.

The event will be held throughout the day on Saturday, November 18.

This year the lights will be switched on by community champion and charity bike scheme organiser Mike 'Puffa' Jones. 

Who is Mike ‘Puffa’ Jones?

Mike Jones, known as @PuffaJones on X (formerly known as Twitter), runs the FreeBikes4Kids project, which has been in operation in and around Newport for almost five years.

South Wales Argus:

His mission is to take unused or unwanted bikes, clean and repair them, then rehome them to children who wouldn't otherwise have access to these.

But his journey didn't begin that way.

It started as a plan for his grandchildren, but later Mr Jones realised that other children might want to ride bikes but don't have the means to do so. He aims to give them a chance of a happier and healthier childhood.

Mr Jones has donated bikes to more than 20 local schools, local charities, children's services and NHS staff. He has even been able to help young people in Uganda so they can use them in cycle sports.

And all the work that goes into running a project like this is done in his garden shed.

Manager of the Newport Now Business Improvement District - which is running the Countdown to Christmas Event - Kevin Ward, said: "We have had celebrities switching on the lights for a number of years, but this Christmas we decided it was fitting to honour someone who has given back so much to the Newport community and Mike fits the bill perfectly".

South Wales Argus:

What to expect from 2023's Countdown to Christmas Event?

As usual there will be live music and performances as well as events for the whole family, including Beauty and the Beast panto performances, and a funfair on the riverfront.

The line-up for the annual switch-on includes special appearances from performers Sophie Evans, The Rogues and Lietta, and the Riverfront Theatre's cast.

If that wasn't enough, children at Millbrook Primary School have designed the Newport Bus Christmas double-decker, decked out with bauble drawings and Merry Christmas messages from each child in the school.

Newport City Council leader Cllr Jane Mudd and Mayor Cllr Trevor Watkins will also be attending.

To mark the occasion, Newport Bus will launch a family day ticket as a Christmas Special November 18. This means the price of a family ticket will be just £5 (usually £9.50) until Sunday, December 31.

Where and When?

The main stage will be based at the junction of Charles Street and Commercial Street, with events will be taking place from 2.40pm to 5.15pm.

What's On?

The full line up of the day's events have been given below:

Midday: Fun fair at the riverfront

2.40pm: Newport City Radio start the show

2.45pm: Lietta

3.05pm: The Rogues

3.55pm: Right Keys Only

4.15pm: Sophie Evans

4.40pm: Cast of the Riverfront Theatre panto

4.45pm: Newport City Radio presenters are joined on stage by children from Millbrook Primary School, Newport City Council leader Councillor Jane Mudd, Mayor Councillor Trevor Watkins, Santa, and Mike ‘Puffa’ Jones

5pm: Lights Switch-On by Mike ‘Puffa’ Jones, the Mayor and Santa.

5.15pm: Fireworks display - the best place to see it will be from John Frost Square, Usk Plaza or the pedestrian bridge.

South Wales Argus: Newport's Christmas Lights will be turned on on November 18 this year

Find the Christmas lights switch-on events calendar for South Wales here.

*Photos taken from last year's Countdown to Christmas event