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MEA hosts a Season to Celebrate with lights switch-on and artisan markets this Christmas

Mid and East Antrim hosts a Season to Celebrate with light switch-on and artisan markets this Christmas

Make Christmas memories in Mid and East Antrim this year and have a season to celebrate with great local shopping, festive events and wintry days out for everyone. The borough is packed with festive events, local shops, cosy cafés, and places to enjoy winter’s wonderland.

Christmas spirit is back with a bang with festive lights switch-on planned to spread Christmas cheer.



Ballymena – Thursday 18 November 5pm (6.45pm switch on)

Kick off the Christmas festivities in Ballymena from 5pm with walkabout characters and toe-tapping tunes from the live concert stage at Harmony Hub, featuring Mojo and Raise the Roof choir.

The Santa Parade starts from Wellington Street at 6.20pm and will feature a pipe band, Dunclug Primary School children with lanterns, Clydesdale horses, Samba band, and of course a visit from Santa and his reindeer. The route will take in Wellington Street, Ballymoney Street, William Street, Broughshane Street, pass the Harmony Hub where a pupil from Castle Tower School will switch on the town’s lights at 6.45pm, continue along Church Street, Mill Street before Santa will then return to the Tower Centre to open his Grotto at 7pm with late night shopping until 9pm.

Larne – Friday 19 November 5pm (7.30pm switch on)

Star of BBC’s The Blame Game, Comedian Tim McGarry will host a full festive programme of entertainment starting at 5pm at Broadway. Tim will be joined by DJ Mark Dobbin, brass bands, The Music Yard, Belfast Community Gospel Choir and lots of festive characters.

A special parade will leave Larne Market Yard around 7pm before heading to Broadway where the Eco Rangers will help the Mayor and Santa switch on the lights at 7.30pm. The parade will feature a cavalcade of specially decorated Landrovers by NI Landrover Club. The parade takes in Circular Road, Quay Street, stopping briefly at Broadway for the lights switch on, before returning along Main Street and High Street.

Carrickfergus - Saturday 20 November 2pm (5.30pm switch on)

A full day of festivities is forecast for Carrickfergus on Saturday 20 November from 2pm, including live music, dancing and face painting.

Plenty of entertainment on stage throughout the day including performances from Royal Tara Dance Academy, Uplift Performing Arts and much more. There will be festive walkabouts, face painting, Christmas carnival games, toast your own marshmallows and get your selfie in a giant bauble.

Santa’s very own reindeer will make an appearance from 3pm. St Nicholas' Church will host a Carol Service from 4pm (limited seating due to Covid restrictions). Santa will then arrive to switch on the Christmas tree lights at around 5.30pm.

Enjoy the magical finale where a fabulous fireworks display will take place around 5.45pm from Fisherman's Quay (weather dependent).

If you can’t make the main switch on event, then pop along to our Seasonal Sounds performances taking place in Carrickfergus throughout December. The Brass and Silver Band concerts will entertain shoppers in the Town Centre from 2-3pm on 4, 11 and 18 December.

Whitehead – Saturday 27 November 3pm - 5.30pm

Have Christmas at the coast with beautiful Christmas carols, street entertainers, Santa and his grotto experience, all topped off with a spectacular fireworks display along the promenade.



You can still celebrate with seasonal sparkle throughout November and December by visiting one of our special artisan markets with live music throughout the borough.

Larne: Broadway

Friday 26th November, 4pm – 8pm Saturday 27th November, 11am – 5pm

Carrickfergus: Market Place

Friday 3rd December, 4pm – 8pm Saturday 4th December, 11am – 5pm Ballymena: Greenvale Street (in association with Ballymena BID)

Thursday 9th December – Sunday 12th December Thursday 16th December – Sunday 19th December (Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays 10am – 6pm, Sundays 1pm – 6pm)


Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey said:

“It’s definitely a season to celebrate here across the borough as we get ready for Christmas and return to normality. Whilst it was still great to bring events to people online last year, you can’t beat the real thing, especially when Santa is involved.

“This year we have fantastic entertainment in all the town centres, from the lights switch on, to live music, parades and of course our delicious artisan markets so you can stock up on festive gifts.

“Late night shopping, cafes and restaurants are gearing up to welcome you back safely this season of cheer, so please try and celebrate local by supporting our wonderful local retailers. They are the heart of our town centres and village high streets, and have everything you need to make it a Christmas to remember.”

The new ShopMEA app features a great selection of local retailers, and you can search for shops and events in Ballymena, Carrickfergus or Larne.

The ShopMEA app also has a host of exclusive discounts and offers – just download the app, select the offer and show the QR code when you are paying. Download from the iOS App Store or Google Play.

You can also view the offers at and follow us on social media for all the latest news, events and information, or visit:

Covid-19 testing is strongly recommended at least 24hours before the event and on days 2 and 8 after the event. Do not attend if you have any Covid-19 symptoms. Please use the hand sanitisers on site and keep social distancing.

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