Cool Kat keeps the crowds entertained at big Hackney switch-on

PUBLISHED: 12:16 09 December 2013 | UPDATED: 12:17 09 December 2013

Speaker of Hackney Michael Desmond with xx from Hackney Empire Puss in Boots. Picture: GARY MANHINE

Speaker of Hackney Michael Desmond with xx from Hackney Empire Puss in Boots. Picture: GARY MANHINE


The festive season was officially kicked off in Hackney last Sunday as the switch was flicked on the borough’s Christmas lights and a series of quirky trees.

Actor Kat B, who is starring in Hackney Empire’s panto Puss in Boots, and the Speaker of Hackney Michael Desmond joined forces to switch the lights on outside Hackney Town Hall in Mare Street.

Around 250 people turned up for the event, many of whom spilled out from the matinee performance of the pantomime at the Empire.

After entertaining the enthusiastic and excited crowds with a little banter, Kat B and Cllr Desmond turned on the 20 ft tree which was designed by interior, lifestyle and fashion label House of Hackney – and features animals nestled in branches and a lampshade instead of an angel on top.

It was followed by carol singing from the Hackney Empire’s Community Choir, which performed on the steps of the Town Hall.

Cllr Michael Desmond said: “It was a delight to be part of this special moment and to witness the enthusiastic crowd enjoy carols sung by Hackney Empire Community Choir. The area has 
become a great place to live and the beautifully decorated tree, along with several elsewhere in the borough, symbolise the hope for an even better year ahead.”

Hackney Empire’s marketing manager Nadia Hartley said: “It was wonderful for Hackney Empire to be 
involved in bringing some festive sparkle to Hackney. The tree looked fantastic and there was a great turnout. The audience loved hearing carols from Hackney Empire’s Community Choir and Kat B crack jokes with the Speaker of Hackney.”

Five Christmas fashion trees were unveiled in Hackney Central, Stoke Newington, Hackney Wick, Shoreditch and Dalston on the day. The council commissioned local designers to design these.

Creations include one by Emma Cook incorporating tulle pompoms in Stoke Newington while a ‘ragged tree’ design by Louise Gray in Dalston features multi-coloured fabric decorations.

However, not everyone was enthralled by the fashion trees.

Hong Nguyen, 38, of Dalston Square, said: “I love Christmas but this tree in Dalston Square is killing Christmas for me. Why does a Christmas tree have to look ragged? If I want a ragged tree I would wait until January to find one someone has thrown out.

“I find it objectionable to my idea of Christmas. Now I have to walk past it for the next three weeks. In this case I think we were trying too hard to be different and should have stuck with tradition.”

Hackney Council say that the Christmas lights and events have been provided for free through private sponsorship and free creative resources by local businesses, artists and designers.

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