Football superstar Ryan Giggs will switch on Newport’s Christmas lights this Saturday, November 17.
The Wales manager – the most-decorated player in football history – has been unveiled as the mystery celebrity who will be pressing the button to officially launch Christmas in the city centre.
During a 23-year stellar playing career with Manchester United, Mr Giggs won 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two UEFA Champions Leagues, one FIFA Club World Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, and nine FA Community Shields.
In all, he played for Manchester United on 963 occasions, scoring 168 goals.
He played for Wales 64 times, scoring 12 goals, and captained Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics.
Mr Giggs’ individual honours include Young Player of the Year in 1992 and 1993, Player of the Year in 2009, and BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2009. He was awarded the OBE for services to football in 2007.
After retiring as a player, Mr Giggs was assistant manager at Manchester United. He took over as Wales manager in January this year, winning three of his seven matches in charge to date.
Mr Giggs will help Mayor of Newport Cllr Malcolm Linton and one more special guest press the button to switch on the city centre’s Christmas lights.
Countdown to Christmas is organised by the Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) in partnership with Newport City Council, Friars Walk, Kingsway Centre and Newport City Radio.
Newport Now manager Kevin Ward said: “We are delighted to be able to announce that Ryan Giggs will be switching on Newport’s Christmas lights this year.
“Ryan is a true sporting superstar and we are sure his appearance will bring even more crowds into the city centre for Countdown to Christmas.”
Running from noon until 5.30pm, Countdown to Christmas will feature music, fairground rides, celebrity guests and cartoon characters, culminating in the official switching on of Newport’s extended city centre Christmas lights and a breath-taking fireworks display.
Internet-based community radio station Newport City Radio will host the first two hours on stage.
From 2pm, Heart Wales breakfast presenters Jagger and Woody take over as the on-stage hosts for the rest of the event. The Countdown to Christmas stage will be based at the bottom of Charles Street, at the junction with Commercial Street.
Ryan Giggs will join Newport Mayor Malcolm Linton on stage to switch on the city centre’s Christmas lights at 5.15pm. A firework display will start from the roof of the Kingsway car park at 5.30pm.
Details of the live music acts performing during the day and the special guest helping to switch on the Christmas lights will be revealed next week.
The event will also include fairground rides along Commercial Street, High Street and the riverfront.
Father Christmas will be making an appearance, costume characters will also be on parade in Commercial Street and High Street and there will be children’s face painters in attendance.
In Friars Walk from noon to 5pm, there will be a giant inflatable snow globe that families and friends can climb inside and get a picture of themselves in a winter wonderland.
Santa’s Grotto will also be open throughout the day in the Kingsway Centre.
Countdown to Christmas is the latest in a series of city centre events organised or funded by Newport Now BID, a private company representing and funded by more than 400 city centre businesses.