CLACTON will turn into a festival of flashing lights, winter wonders and seasonal cheer next weekend when festive spirit illuminates the town centre.

The annual, and always well-attended, Big Christmas Switch On is taking place on Saturday, November 30 on the former fountain square in between McDonald’s and Magic City.

The bustling bonanza will kick-off at 10am and throughout the day shoppers will be treated to an array of entertainment as they look around the festive stalls for gifts.

Live music performances from artists such as singer-songwriter Ed Talbot and vocalist Abbie Hartley will provide the perfect soundtrack as residents hunt for stocking fillers.

There will also be dramatic showings from the Westcliff Theatre Youth Group and Mad About Theatre, which locals can enjoy while sipping on their hand-warming hot chocolates.

In a bid to truly create the experience of a winter wonderland, several machines will be blowing out imitation snow during the festivities.

As the sun starts to go down and the crowds begin to swell, the attention will turn to the eagerly anticipated countdown, which will start around 5pm.

The magical display of Christmas lights will be switched on by panto stars from Aladdin and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The latter production is showing at the Princes Theatre throughout the festive season and stars famous faces such as actor Graham Cole and singer Linda Nolan.

The Big Christmas Switch On is organised and self-funded by the Clacton Town Partnership, which spends thousands of pounds to ensure the town is lit-up during the holidays.

Graham Webb, chairman of the community group, believes this year’s extravaganza could be the biggest one they have ever arranged.

Mr Webb said: “Like all towns, our town desperately needs the support of the public and weather permitting we aim to make this our biggest show ever.

“Stars from the pantomimes at both the Westcliff Theatre and Princes Theatre’s pantomimes will be putting an appearance in and flicking the light switch.

“We will have hot chestnuts, the return of the tea-cup ride and more stalls than we have ever had.

“There will also be a large screen, which has been donated to us by Hughes, to show footage of the crowd and previous concerts.

“We have certainly tried to make this the biggest on so far and all we can hope for is a good day.”

Elsewhere in Tendring, Walton residents will have the chance to meet Santa Claus in the Naze Centre’s mystical grotto as he gives out special gifts to the town’s best-behaved children.

The event, which will also feature a festive choir performance, will be held on December 14 and 15.

Shoppers in Frinton will also have the chance to get in the Christmas spirit when the town centre’s range of shops extend their opening hours on December 13.