Merlin cast turn on Cardiff’s Christmas lights

Yesterday (12 November, 2009) the Christmas lights of Cardiff were officially turned on. Despite the charming Welsh rain, a huge crowd gathered outside the Civic Hall to watch the evening’s events.

Red Dragon FM’s Kam and Sally were the presenters and entertainment for the evening was provided by the Red Hot Santas and Barney the Dinosaur.

Barney
Children's favourite - Barney

There were a lot of young families in the audience who were undoubtedly there to see Barney. To his credit, Barney gave a great perfomance and it was clear that the assembled children were all loving see him “in person”.

Before Barney though, the Red Hot Santas were belting out Christmas classics. Singing and playing in their own unique way, they certainly got the crowd singing along towards the end.

 The brass band, plus a drummer, really gave an enjoyable take on well-known songs. Dressed in Santa’s traditional red jacket with white fur trimming, the band certainly looked the part. Courtesy of the band, it was the first time I had seen a dreadlocked Santa!

At 6.30pm it was time for the main event. The cast of Merlin came on stage one by one beginning with Katie McGrath who plays Morgana. Next up was the rather dashing Bradley James who plays Arthur, followed by Angel Coulby who plays Gwen. Then the very lovely Anthony Head, who plays Uther, and then finally the hero himself, Colin Morgan who plays Merlin.

Merlin ensemble
The cast of Merlin

The crowd was shouting and screaming as the cast all said “hello”. As an avid viewer of Merlin, I will quite happily tell you that I was screaming along as well.

After a few words from each cast member, it fell to Colin to turn on the lights. In true Merlin fashion, in order to turn on the lights a spell had to be cast. After a few attempts at practising the “magic” word, the lights were turned on and everyone suddenly became illuminated.

A fantastic fireworks displayed followed in which the cast of Merlin all jumped off the stage so that they could watch too.

Even though it was raining, a lot of people waited and pushed to the front to get a closer look at the Merlin cast. Again, I include myself in this one. I was there too, eagerly trying to get a photo of Anthony Head.

Anthony Head
Anthony Head who plays Uther

Anthony, it must be said, was a true gentleman and stayed a good 15 minutes or so signing books and having photos taken. While my rather blurry photo taken on my Blackberry doesn’t do him justice, it was clear that Anthony was enjoying himself.

On a cold and wet night it was great to see that all the cast members were taking time to meet their fans instead of hurrying to get back inside.

The big switch-on coincided with the opening of Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland which will now run for 52 days.

Sponsored by BMI Baby, there is an open-air skating rink and the John Lewis Wheel.

The Wheel is the height of three double-decker buses and, according to the Winter Wonderland website, boasts “24 heated, waterproof, enclosed gondolas that can accommodate up to 6 passengers on a 10 minute flight.”

With the lights now on and a giant ferris wheel outside the Civic Hall, Christmas has definitely come to Cardiff.

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