The hugely popular winter event promises to bring some Christmas cheer to residents and visitors alike over four weekends, and celebrations get underway with the Christmas lights switch on in Stockton town centre this week.
Here’s everything you need to know for your family to enjoy all the festive fun – and yule be sorry to miss any of it…
I’m excited – tell me more about what’s in store at Sparkles 2021!
The countdown to Christmas begins with a bumper launch night packed full of entertainment, including the annual Christmas lights switch-on.
But there’s so much more on offer this year and other festival highlights include a Victorian Christmas Fair, Sparkles Christmas Market, the return of the Festive Spiegeltent plus musical performances, street theatre, sing-alongs and choirs.
The much-loved Reindeer Parade is back too but with a difference – there’s a slightly later start time to incorporate a stunning lantern parade.
What’s happening on launch night?
Stockton Sparkles launches in style on Thursday 25 November between 5.30pm and 8pm. Hosted by BBC Tees with entertainment from Santa and music by Phil Davids and the Good Times Band, Stockton High Street will come alive with the Christmas vibe. Gather near the Stockton Flyer plinth from 5.30pm for a full programme of entertainment on the stage before for the lights switch on at 6.30pm, with Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees, Councillor Kevin Faulks flicking the switch to get Stockton sparkling! Community choirs will then lead a singalong around the Christmas tree, with support from Apollo Arts Musicians.
All the fun of the Victorian Fair
Ride the 50-foot Ferris wheel, carousel and more, all for free, at the fantastic Victorian Fair which will be on the High Street from launch night on Thursday 25 November through to Sunday 28 November.
Find that special gift at Sparkles Christmas Market
The four-day Christmas Market runs from Thursday 2 December until Sunday 5 December on Stockton High Street and offers a wealth of tasty treats and festive goodies from local artists, makers and traders, all housed in 14 winter wonderland wooden cabins.
Let us entertain you in the Festive Spiegeltent
The popular Spiegeltent returns from Thursday 2 December to Sunday 5 December, offering a packed programme of festive entertainment. There’s free family activities and crafts by day and three nights of ticketed live music and cabaret shows at night, in partnership with Ku Bar. Those shows will see More Commitments play the Spiegeltent on Thursday 2 December, with Black Cat Cabaret bringing a festive feast of variety on Friday 3 December, and soul and funk band Smoove & Turrell playing on Saturday 4 December. Tickets – including the option to buy seats in a booth for four to six people – are on sale now from www.arconline.co.uk (tickets for evening performances are over 18s only).
Will there be a reindeer parade?
Yes – but this year’s event starts a bit later and includes a new lantern parade! Five beautiful Cairngorm reindeers will lead the parade down Stockton High Street accompanied by Santa and his elves on Sunday 5 December from 4pm followed by local schoolchildren and community groups. Don’t miss this dazzling display of colour and light featuring fabulous stilt walkers and puppets.
Join family and friends for a community Christmas singalong
Stockton High Street will resound with a special Christmas singalong on Saturday 11 December from 10am to 3pm, with interactive street theatre and an array of music, including a community choirs performance.
Get your last minute gifts and treats at the Christmas Eve Traditional Market
Shop at the Christmas Eve market on Stockton High Street from 9am until 2.30pm on Friday 24 December.
What do councillors think about Stockton Sparkles?
Councillor Jim Beall, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “Stockton Sparkles was sadly cancelled last year due to the pandemic, so this year we are determined to make it a Christmas to remember for young and old alike.
“This welcome return of our hugely popular winter festival offers a wealth of festivities for all the family, and I’m sure both residents and visitors from further afield will turn out in force to enjoy themselves. Stockton Sparkles is one of our most popular events and it’ll be great to see the High Street come alive with Christmas spirit again.”
What kind of COVID precautions are in place?
Though there are currently no Government restrictions on holding outdoor events, people attending Stockton Sparkles are encouraged to wear face coverings in any crowded and enclosed spaces. Anyone with any of the COVID symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – is asked to stay at home.
Where can I park and which car parks will be closed?
There are over a thousand parking spaces in Stockton plus the Castlegate and Wellington Square car parks. During launch night the Shambles car park will be unavailable and it will also be out of action for the Reindeer Parade, when the Municipal Buildings car park will also be closed from 12pm until 5.30pm. For a full list of parking options click here.
What road closures will there be and will buses be affected?
The central area of Stockton High Street, between the bus turning loops, will be closed from 11am until midnight on Thursday 25 November. Bus services will be affected and temporary stops will be in operation during the closure. The High Street car park will also be closed from 6pm on Tuesday 23 November until 8am on Friday November 26. There’ll be rolling road closures in Stockton town centre during the Reindeer Parade for a short period of time. Buses will remain in normal operation at all other times. Full information on bus services for Stockton town centre can be found here.
There will be no disruption to Stockton’s High Street market traders during our regular Wednesday, Friday and Saturday markets.
This all sounds great! Where can I find out more?
For full dates and times and details of everything Sparkles has to offer visit www.enjoyteesvalley.com/stockton-on-tees.