Retailers hope that tonight’s Christmas lights switch-on will draw more people to Douglas and help to boost business.

The council’s event usually draws thousands of people to the town – or city as it has now become.

It is making a big deal of its new status and has named the occasion the ‘first-ever Christmas City Lights event’.

The authority boasts that snow, Santa, Shopping and seasonal cheer will be ‘guaranteed’.

Mayor Janet Thommeny will wish visitors a Merry Christmas – to be broadcast via large outdoor cinema screens and speakers situated throughout the town - just before the lights are officially switched on at 7pm.

Attractions will stretch from Duke Street to Castle Street and beyond, taking in Howard Street, Granville Street, Villiers Square and, for the first time, the new ‘cultural area’ near the Gaiety Theatre.

The evening of entertainment will include live music, children’s rides, an ice sculpture, outdoor cinema, a craft fair and a Christmas craft workshop in the Henry Bloom Noble Library.

Father Christmas will be in his grotto from 5.30pm to 8.30pm in the Strand Shopping Centre, while outside the Strand is the setting for this year’s ice sculpture, to be carved by celebrated artists Stephanie Quayle and Darren Jackson where you’ll be able to have your photo taken between 6pm and 8pm before ‘meltdown’.

All photos will be uploaded to the Douglas Town Centre Management Facebook page.

Castle Street will be the setting for a ‘snow garden’ while Villiers Square, courtesy of the Tevir Group, will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland with free children’s fairground rides and Christmas Crazy Golf!

Duke Street will host the Itty Bitty Photobooth where you’ll be able to have your photo taken with a Christmas backdrop, all accompanied by the music of Douglas Town Band, playing Christmas carols in the week it has officially marked its 135th anniversary.

Meanwhile, there will be three performances by freelance dancers and circus act performers, Spinnin Vannin, on Granville Street and a craft market on Marina Road.

Regeneration and community committee chair Councillor Andrew Bentley said: ‘Christmas in Douglas truly will have something for everyone this year and it will be wonderful to see so much going on in various spaces across the centre of Douglas.

‘Thursday will be a magical evening of family entertainment and attractions. Late-night shopping begins, of course, and there will be some well-known characters visiting some of the shops. Snow’ will definitely fall and Santa will be in his grotto.

‘A big thank you to GG International Limited for sponsoring the event and 3FM, which will be broadcasting live throughout the evening. We look forward to seeing islanders in the capital to celebrate Christmas and support local businesses enthusiastically.’

There will also be free parking in Douglas Council’s Shaw’s Brow and Bottleneck car parks every Thursday evening until Christmas after 5pm and each weekend.

Parking is also available on the walkway on Loch Promenade. It will run until the New Year.