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Sophie Dahl and Sandi Toksvig switch on Christmas lights

London SE1 website team

Thursday night was a celeb-studded one on the South Bank as Sophie Dahl switched on the Festive Lights at the Royal Festival Hall and Old Vic panto star Sandi Toksvig did the honours in Waterloo.

Sophie Dahl
Sophie Dahl switches on the Festive Lights installation at the Royal Festival Hall. Photo by Kieron McCarron.
Sandi Toksvig
Sandi Toksvig (centre) was the star guest at the Waterloo Christmas event in Emma Cons Gardens
Bob Skelly, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley & Peter Moore
Cllr Bob Skelly (Mayor of Southwark), Lucinda Dickens Hawksley and town crier Peter Moore at Red Cross Garden

The Hayward invited contemporary artist Anya Gallaccio to create this year's Festive Lights commission at the Southbank Centre.

Anya Gallacio has adorned a section of the Royal Festival Hall's western wall with just under 1,000 individually hand-tinted light bulbs, each a varying shade of green. The bulbs turn off and on according to programmed rhythms that use Morse code to transmit the lyrics of three popular Christmas songs – Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells and White Christmas.

A second installation, composed of hundreds of hand painted red bulbs, illuminates the front eastern corner of the building.

David Batchelor's 2006 commission, Festival Remix, has returned to the Southbank Centre. Inspired by refurbishment work at the Royal Festival Hall, Batchelor transformed mundane building tools such as bins, pallets and cement mixers into glowing forms. These illuminated objects are complemented by festoons of lights, each in its own recycled plastic bottle.

Meanwhile at Emma Cons Gardens Sandi Toksvig switched on Waterloo's Christmas lights at a ceremony organised by Waterloo Quarter Business Alliance. Toksvig is the narrator of Stephen Fry's new version of Cinderella which opens this week at The Old Vic.

• On Friday night Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, switched on the Christmas lights at Red Cross Garden in Redcross Way.

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