Mansfield’s Sister City in the United Kingdom – Mansfield, England – has much in common with its Ohio counterpart. Both celebrate the holiday season with a community tree lighting as a centerpiece.
In England, the event is known as the “Big Switch On,” which this year took place on November 18. Over 8,000 people were in attendance. In years past, this celebration has included a visit from Santa, food, a children’s Christmas party, goodie bags, live music from a “Michael Buble tribute act,” a visit from the local pantomime production at the Palace Theatre, a laser light show to music, the Christmas tree lighting with the local soccer team, and a fireworks finale.
Here is a short video with highlights of the Big Switch On. The tree lighting itself takes place about the 6:30 mark, with fireworks directly afterward.
A complete guide to events in the Mansfield area through Christmas can be found at this location online. It’s an amazing set of happenings for a city of 100,000.
Speaking of the pantomime, this year’s version is “Snow White and the Seven Drawfs,” which is being performed at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre. In another remarkable similarity, the Palace – like the Ohio/Renaissance Theatre here – was built as a movie palace. According to its website, in 2016 the Palace in Mansfield experienced its most successful year ever with over 100,000 customers attending its productions and with the average attendance rising to 74% or 395 people per performance. And, like the Renaissance, the Palace has an ongoing community arts education component.