TWO huge illuminated Christmas trees greet you as you enter the Phil - they capture the magic of the festive season and are a sparkling indicator of what will follow.

This year's productions - featuring Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir -  are tinged with some sad news, as the ever excellent presenter for the past ten years John Suchet (pictured during the performance, below) is hosting his final series of shows.

Wirral Globe:

He was clearly moved as he announed his departure but more of John's contribution later.

This was another faultless celebration of Christmas with old and new carols and classics. There was something for everyone.

You are in safe hands: RLPO conductor Ian Tracey (surely it's time he was knighted?) and The Liverpool Philharmonic's Youth Choir artistic director and conductor Simon Emery really do join in the fun.

Wirral Globe:

I wish this type of concert had been around when I was at school. Now, as grown up, it all feels like an extended family-get-together.

And this year, baritone Thomas Weinhappel from Vienna brought an extra sprinkling of seasonal bonhommie.

This charismatic opera singer praised Liverpool and recalled with clear pride his time as a member of the world famous Vienna Boys Choir.

Thomas is currently studying in Berlin and is making his first visit to the city.

With atmosperic back-screen projections and an audience eager to join in to sing along (when invited, of course) how can you not get into the spirit of Christmas?

From the opening carol Hark! The Herald Angels sing to the Youth Choir on Midnight of Your Birth it was as warm an evening as watching a fire glow in a hearth.

John's baritone solo on O Holy Night and a truly evocative Edelweiss were complemented by his jolly rendition of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

After the interval it was another happy hamper full of hearty delights with Do You Hear What I Hear? The Choir and Youth Choir in extra soaring mode.

I Believe in Father Christmas - written by Greg Lake - and performed by the Choir proved why this is is one of the perennial Christmas songs.

We all sang along during a reflective In the Bleak Mid Winter while the beautiful Galeic Blessing led into a rousing Last-night-of-the Proms styled O Come All Ye Faithful.

Everyone (and I mean everyone) sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Not even face masks could dampen the enthusiasm.

And so goodbye John Suchet. His perfectly-pitched poems and anecdotes were as well-received as ever. John always looked as though he was enjoying every single moment.

One reason we will miss him - but happily, after his last show on December 23, he will be back with Viva Verdi! in June.

John was given a special Christmas present. He was allowed to conduct the Phil Orchestra and proved he will be a hard act to follow in this giant Christmas card of a show.

Globe verdict: Five stars - utterly joyous and uplifting

Until December 23.

Tickets from 0151 709 3789