Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Review | Cabot Circus Christmas lights switch on 2018

If you follow me on Instagram, then you'll know that last Friday night was pretty special. Somehow, I've reached this ripe old age never having experienced a Christmas lights switch-on. Time to right that wrong!
Happily, Bristol shopping centre Cabot Circus invited us to the launch of the 2018 Christmas lights switch-on. We convened at Quakers Friars just as the sun set, where a grotto had appeared as if by magic. It was the sweetest place, a homely, Scandi-inspired hut adorned with twinkly lights and magical touches. Oh, and snow! All very fitting considering who'd taken up residence there.

Santa was just how you'd want him to be, with a flowing beard and spectacles perched on his nose. He invited in our youngest three and they had a lovely chat for enough time for it not to feel like a conveyor belt (which can sometimes happen at these things). The kids posed for photos before being sent on their way with gifts from Santa's stash. Outside, the kids ripped open their pressies and were delighted with the model aeroplanes and a dice game they found inside.

It was nearing 6pm by this stage and the Christmas lights countdown was beginning soon. So we made our way into the covered shopping centre where huge crowds had already gathered. The kids were absolutely made up to have been handed a VIP lanyard, and it really made a difference to our experience to watch the event from a quieter press area. (Ted's sensory needs are high - part of his autism - so it's always touch-and-go whether or not we can attend events like this. Thankfully, he was happy to experience it all at Cabot Circus.)

Ed, Troy and Paulina from the Heart Bristol breakfast show opened the event and led an excitable countdown. The Christmas present piñata wasn't quite safe enough because of the strong winds but no one really noticed, as the loud samba band and bright, colourful carnival dancers made their way around the shopping centre, which more than made up for it. They headed up the escalators and past the heaving crowds, towards the stage where they danced to Christmas classics like 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' by Mariah Carey. Florence especially was mesmerised.

As the countdown began, we all joined in until the lights around the shopping centre were all illuminated to clapping and cheering from the crowds. The giant Santa holding a gift is at the centre of this year's display, while all around are trees, twinkling garlands and simple reindeer shapes all rendered in light.

The cherry on the top was a huge confetti cannon which filled the air with colour - the kids absolutely adored this and couldn't quite believe how close they were to the action.

Once the excitement subsided and the crowds began to disperse, we wandered up to Zizzi's on the top floor. From the second we arrived, we were treated so well by the friendly staff who were so accommodating (not always easy with five kids!). And I was beyond impressed with the vegan menu - there was so much choice. I had no idea before but Zizzi's is going straight into my top ten high street restaurants now for its menu options and for being so family friendly. We all had garlic bread to start, followed by pizzas. Mine was the Pepperonata - a mix of spicy chilli, peppers and topped with pea shoots. So good. And for dessert, Mike and I shared a plum calzone while the kids mowed down on ice cream with popping candy. Heaven!

On the way out, we had our photo taken at the Christmas arch outside House of Fraser, a lovely touch which was proving really popular already.

As if that wasn't enough, we still had the Broadmead Christmas market to explore. We wandered through the German style market with its stalls selling handmade crafts, food and beer, fir trees and fairy lights everywhere. At the centre, the Bavarian beer garden was already busy with revellers enjoying plenty of German lager. The kids had fun sticking their heads through the selfie snowman's face while we eyed up the larger than life confectionary.

All that was left was a drizzly walk home, the kids still giddy with the thrill of it all, their exciting VIP experience and being allowed to stay up so late. The most fun Friday we've had in ages, and such a brilliant build up to the Christmas season. We really can't wait now - let the countdown to Christmas begin!

How ready are you? Not started Christmas shopping yet or totally finished it all? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Cabot Circus paid for us to review the 2018 Christmas lights switch on (both here on the blog and on social media), and our experience was gifted as part of this agreement. 
Needless to say, the review above is a genuine review which outlines our evening and how we found each element. 
Thank you for supporting the partnerships that make this blog possible x
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