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8 December 2016, 07:27 | Updated: 8 December 2016, 07:40
A new £85 million leisure complex in the centre of Southampton is opening its doors.
West Quay Watermark will have about 20 restaurants and cafes - the first ones open today (Thursday 8 December.
There's also a new esplanade for holding events - a bowling alley and more places to eat follow next week and a ten-screen cinema's due to open in the New Year.
The official opening celebration will also feature ‘Luminate Southampton’, a light show that begins with a parade through the city followed by a spectacular light projection onto the historic city walls in The Esplanade. Starting at 3pm on Saturday 10 December in Guildhall Square, the light parade will be 'a magnificent display of drummers, giant birds and marching bands'.
Students from Southampton University will be taking part, 100 children from local primary schools will be carrying homemade lanterns and visitors can enjoy a performance from Love Soul Choir.
Following the parade, the digital light show will begin at 6pm in The Esplanade, projecting scenes of Southampton through the ages onto the city walls. Visitors will be able to see these projections again from Sunday 11 through to Thursday 15 December, starting at 5pm, running for 7 minutes every hour, until 9pm each evening.
Supported by Government’s Regional Growth Fund, The Esplanade is 'a new area of public realm that will become a vibrant focal point for the city and will host a series of over 100 spectacular live events'. Throughout the weekend, the public will also have the opportunity to get involved in a whole host of other activities taking place in the Esplanade.
Entertainment will include face painters and a glitter station for children, and live acrobats, ballet dancers and hip hop dance troupes to delight the whole family. A lookalike Heston Blumenthal stilt act will also be on hand to welcome the new restaurant line-up.
Restaurants will be open to the public from Thursday 8 December. These include CAU, The Real Greek, Red Dog Saloon, Franco Manca, Thaikhun and Byron. Further openings of the remaining restaurants, Hollywood Bowl and Showcase Cinema de Lux will continue throughout December and early next year.
Andy Collyer, General Manager of Westquay, said:
“We are really looking forward to celebrating this significant first opening with the public by hosting a series of fantastic events. Already the region’s leading retail destination, the addition of the development’s all new dining and leisure line-up will cement Westquay as the go-to destination on the South Coast.”