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 Gabby Dimaandal, Trish Rooney and Sophie O’Callaghan who performed with The Cork Academy of Popular Music choir at the event. Pic; Larry Cummins
Gabby Dimaandal, Trish Rooney and Sophie O’Callaghan who performed with The Cork Academy of Popular Music choir at the event. Pic; Larry Cummins
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Video & Pictures: Christmas begins at flick of a switch

THOUSANDS of people poured onto Patrick Street last night for the traditional switching on of the Christmas lights, signalling the start of the festive period.

Cork business owners have highlighted the importance of shopping local this Christmas, with some retailers hoping to do more than 30% of their yearly business during the festive period.

The Cork Business Association (CBA) is hoping people will shop local and support local businesses and jobs.

 Twin sisters Abbie and Holly O’Looney with sisters Emma O’Connell and Sarah O’Looney. Picture: Larry Cummins

Twin sisters Abbie and Holly O’Looney with sisters Emma O’Connell and Sarah O’Looney. Picture: Larry Cummins

“It’s a very important time for local business and traditionally one of the busiest times of the year and we’re hoping that this year will be one of the busiest yet,” said Pat O’Connell, president of the CBA. “With all the online stuff, it’s important to remember there are local jobs, local businesses and it’s important to support them, because keeping your euro in the community will filter down and help the whole city,” he added.

 Leo Buckley, Shanon Buckley and Hamel Kavanagh, Hollyhill at the switching on of the Christmas lights on Patrick Street yesterday, organised by Cork City Council. Picture: Darragh Kane

Leo Buckley, Shanon Buckley and Hamel Kavanagh, Hollyhill at the switching on of the Christmas lights on Patrick Street yesterday, organised by Cork City Council. Picture: Darragh Kane

“Some businesses would do 20% or 25% or 30% of their business during the Christmas period and not meeting this could scuttle their whole year, so it’s a hugely important time.”

Thousands took to the streets for the official Christmas lights ceremony which kicked off the festive season.

Lord Mayor of Cork City, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, switched on the lights at 7.15pm in front of cheering crowds.

 Kayleigh Bowles, Jay, Molly and Camron Thompson enjoy the magical atmosphere created at the switching on of the city’s Christmas lights.

Kayleigh Bowles, Jay, Molly and Camron Thompson enjoy the magical atmosphere created at the switching on of the city’s Christmas lights.

Cork will be transformed into a festive wonderland with the opening of Glow on Grand Parade on December 1, which will run over the weekends leading up to Christmas. “We are a city of festivals at this stage,” said the Lord Mayor. “Christmas is a particular time of celebration.

“People can enjoy the Christmas experience while also picking up a few bargains in the city. We have an incredible 55,000 lights around the city.”

 Seán Nash, Shanakiel; Chloe O’Sullivan, Carrigtwohill; and Ryan Nash, Shanakiel. Picture: Darragh Kane

Seán Nash, Shanakiel; Chloe O’Sullivan, Carrigtwohill; and Ryan Nash, Shanakiel. Picture: Darragh Kane

Meanwhile the CBA will this year be holding a major fundraiser in support of Pieta House: Suicide and Self Harm Crisis Centre. “There is another side to Christmas where some people might be alone or struggling and we’re trying to highlight this,” said Mr O’Connell.