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Record breaking night for London's Christmas Carol-themed lights switch-on

Story by Jack Foley

CELEBRITIES including Jim Carrey and Colin Firth gathered in London on Tuesday night (November 3, 2009) to enjoy the start of the festive season, alongside over 50,000 Londoners who thronged the West End and the City of London streets.

The event formed part of the biggest ever co-ordinated Christmas Lights switch on and celebration ahead of the World Premiere of Disney’s A Christmas Carol in Leicester Square, in association with Morrisons.

Firth started the celebrations from Regent Street when he pushed the button to light the skies above the famous shopping street, this year celebrating the 55th Anniversary of the lights.

Hosted by Heart FM’s Toby Anstis, the crowds were also treated to live performances from The Noisettes, Daniel Merriweather, London Community Gospel Choir and Jodie Prenger, currently starring in Oliver!

A spectacular pyrotechnic display from the rooftops of Regent Street completed the programme.

Next it was the turn of the City of London, where on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, Bob Hoskins started a breathtaking light display following performances from Spandau Ballet, Little Boots, Faryl Smith, St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, the cast of Hairspray and Scouting for Girls.

And finally in Oxford Circus, the 50 shopping days countdown to Christmas got underway when Jim Carrey and filmmaker Robert Zemeckis flicked the switch to light up Oxford Street. Heart FM’s Jason Donovan and Harriet Scott were there to introduce star performances from The Saturdays, Taio Cruz, the cast of West End musical Sister Act and Peter Andre.

At St Paul’s Cathedral, Bob Hoskins who plays Old Joe and Old Fezziwig, said: “It was a fantastic privilege to be involved in such a huge London event, especially at St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of Dickensian London.

“The film is a fantastic achievement using ground-breaking technology and perfect for the whole family this Christmas time.”

At Oxford Circus, Jim Carrey, who plays seven roles in the film, including Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, switched on the lights at this location with Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis.

Zemeckis commented: “The crowds in London are always phenomenal and I always love coming here. It is fantastic to be part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Oxford Street lights.”

A Christmas Carol lights, London

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who spoke at Oxford Circus as part of the festivities said: “Only London could bring together Dickens and Disney – one of the world’s best writers with one of the greatest global brands. I’m delighted that the latest version of A Christmas Carol is being premiered here and thrilled tonight to see the West End and the City of London lit up so spectacularly in honour of that event.

“It’s a wonderful way to get us in the mood for the festive season, adding that extra bit of magic for Londoners and anyone already planning to come to London. For everyone else, there’s even more reason to visit.”

The focus of the night then moved back to the City of London where the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir started the attempt to break the Official Guinness World Record for the biggest ever Christmas Carol sing-along to O Come all Ye Faithful with all locations taking part via the big screens.

Screens across the capital then focussed on Leicester Square where celebrated Italian superstar tenor Andrea Bocelli, continued the record breaking sing-along performing Silent Night with St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, all the other star performers and more than 14,000 people across the capital.

The previous record stood at 7,514 and tonight’s figure has been verified by Guinness. A donation will be made to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (Registered Charity no. 235825) as part of Disney’s partnership with the hospital, to help towards an ongoing Disney campaign to raise an invaluable £10 million towards their much-needed redevelopment appeal.

Bocelli completed his performance in Leicester Square with the closing song of the movie, God Bless Us Everyone.

And the stars of the film, including Carrey, Firth and Hoskins, then gathered on the red carpet in Leicester Square with Academy Award® winning film maker Zemeckis for the World Premiere of Disney’s A Christmas Carol taking place in three of London’s top cinemas in Leicester Square and an additional 17 cinemas around the country, to set the Official Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous 3D Film Premiere.

Disney’s A Christmas Carol will be released through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, UK in cinemas across the UK on November 6, 2009.

View photos from the event or from the world premiere