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Victoria Park highlights a festive Friday in the Forest City

Victoria Park in December 2016. Matthew Trevithick / 980 CFPL

The city of London is set to officially kick off the holiday season with the annual lighting of the lights at Victoria Park.

Roughly 20,000 people, including Santa Claus himself, are expected in Victoria Park on Friday night to witness the downtown park’s transformation into a winter wonderland.

All 75,000 lights in the park will be turned on at 6:50 p.m Friday evening and remain lit nightly from 5:30 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. until Dec. 31.

People are encouraged to show up earlier as carolling by the Fanshawe Theatre Vocal Ensemble gets underway at 6:15 p.m.

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Jon-Paul McGonigle, a divisional manager of parks and recreation for the city, says getting the park ready for the holiday season doesn’t happen overnight.

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“It does take about four to six weeks, weather dependent, to get all of those 75,000 lights up at Victoria Park, and we’ve been pretty lucky with the weather this year.”

Planning for the park starts even earlier, with meetings beginning as far back as July.

Friday night will be full of festive spirit as the CP Holiday Train will swing through town, with a performance from Great Big Sea lead singer Alan Doyle.

McGonigle says the train will stop at the Richmond Street railway crossing, between Pall Mall Street and Piccadilly Street, around 8:15 p.m.

If you’re looking for other ways to celebrate your Christmas cheer, you can head over to 980 CFPL’s map of the city’s best Christmas lights displays.

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