Rugby stars Aaron Wainwright and Cory Hill will switch on Newport’s Christmas lights this Saturday (November 16).
The Dragons and Wales players were today unveiled as the star names who will officially launch the festive season in the city centre at Newport Now’s Countdown to Christmas event.
Newport-born forward Aaron was one of the stars of the recent Rugby World Cup, scoring a crucial try in the quarter-final against France before Wales were narrowly beaten by eventual winners South Africa in the semi-final.
The former Bassaleg School pupil has enjoyed a meteoric rise to international acclaim since making his debut for the Dragons in October 2017.
The back row completed a clean sweep at the Dragons’ end of season awards in May as he was named the Coaches’, Players’ and Supporters’ Player of the Year.
Aaron now has 18 caps for Wales and – thanks to TV exposure at the World Cup – a world-famous moustache!
Cory played for Wales at U16, U18 and U20 levels, playing in the Junior World Championships in 2011 and 2012 – captaining the side in the latter tournament.
After playing for the Blues and English side Moseley, Cory joined the Dragons in 2013. He captained the Rodney Parade region for the 2017/18 season and has made more than 100 appearances for the Dragons.
Cory won his first senior Wales cap in 2016 and is now a regular in the team, winning 24 caps and captaining his country during the tour of the USA and Argentina last year. Injury ruled him out of the World Cup in Japan, and he is aiming to be back in action for the Dragons before Christmas.
Aaron and Cory will help Mayor of Newport Cllr William J Routley 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 BID manager Kevin Ward said:
“We are delighted to be able to announce that Aaron and Cory will be switching on Newport’s Christmas lights this year.
“Aaron is a Newport boy who thrilled the nation at the recent World Cup and Cory is a key player for the Dragons and Wales, and we are sure their appearance will bring even more crowds into the city centre for Countdown to Christmas.”
Running from 2pm 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 run the stage for the first hour of the event, with host Philip Davies introducing music from Aled Hughes.
From 3pm, Heart radio 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.
They will introduce TV choir Only Men Aloud, West End star Sophie Evans and rising Newport rocker Jack Perrett.
Aaron Wainwright and Cory Hill will join Mayor Routley on stage to switch on the city centre’s Christmas lights at 5.15pm. A firework display will start at 5.30pm.
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 there will be a giant Christmas chair that families and friends can climb onto and get a picture of themselves.
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.