Where to do your Christmas Shopping

As the Christmas season begins, town centres across the county will come alive with all-manner of seasonal entertainment. Here is just a snapshot of what festivities to expect

Chelmsford Chelmsford town centre will be lit up by its Christmas lights for the first time in 2011 on Sunday, November 27. The 2011 Christmas Lights Switch-on Event will take place in Chelmsford High Street and in addition to the light switch on, there will be many activities for all of the family to enjoy – including choirs, brass bands, bell ringers and a Singing Stars competition, with all the entertainment hosted by BBC Radio Essex. There is even the chance to meet some real reindeer in Chelmsford town centre for the day, along with Santa of course.

What not to missOn December 10 there will be a Vintage & Handmade Market at Shire Hall on Chelmsford High Street. You’ll find vintage clothes, vintage jewellery, handmade jewellery, handmade crafts, homewares, gifts and a vintage tearoom selling delicious cakes and hot drinks. Late-night shopping begins in Chelmsford town centre on Thursday nights from December 1. Please check details of individual store opening times for more information.

Find out more Chelmsford Tourist Information 01245 606606 Meadows Shopping Centre 01245 346266

Southend Southend on Sea town centre will be transformed into a winter wonderland from Saturday, November 19. The whole day will be packed with free, festive fun and entertainment for all the family including a special parade featuring Santa and his real reindeer, live music courtesy of BBC Essex and Heart FM, plus street entertainment and the switching on of the Christmas lights.

What not to missThere will be further seasonal celebrations in Southend on December 3 as the Festive Fun Day takes centre stage in Victoria Circus providing a packed day of entertainment for shoppers between 11am and 5pm. Shoppers can also visit the Christmas Farmers’ & Crafts Market on each Saturday from November 19 to December 17.

Find out more Southend Tourist Information Centre 01702 618747

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Brentwood Visitors to Brentwood will be getting in to the festive spirit on Saturday, November 26 with the annual Christmas Lighting Up event. Taking place from noon until 6pm, the event promises to have something for every member of the family. As well as having a main stage hosted by BBC Essex, the day will see lots of intriguing, amazing and hilarious walkabout street performers, including a group of break-dancing Santas and ice fairy acrobatics.

What not to missFor something a little bit different, visit Weald Country Park each weekend in December for Christmas at Weald. This is a chance to meet Father Christmas in his grotto surrounded by live animals and enjoy a traditional Christmas atmosphere with mulled punch, Christmas music and gifts for all ages available from the visitor centre.

Find out more Call Brentwood Information Centre on 01277 200300   >>

Maldon Make Maldon Magical takes place on Saturday, December 3 on Maldon High Street from 3.30pm. There will be a number of community activities including processions to celebrate the Christmas light switch on and following the switch on of Christmas lights there will be a winter carnival parade along the High Street.

What not to missMaldon’s Victorian Evenings have become famous across the county and this year they take place on December 1 and 8 from 6.30pm. Celebrating a traditional Victorian Christmas, shopkeepers dress up in Victorian attire while street stalls sell hot chestnuts, traditional food, crafts and handmade items. There is also a feast of entertainment supplied and even special guest appearances from Father Christmas and Queen Victoria.

Find out more Call Maldon District Council on 01621 854477

Colchester Colchester will be lit up by its Christmas lights on November 19. Lights in Culver Square and the High Street will be turned on at the same time before the lights in Lion Walk will be switched on slightly later that evening. Family fun and festivities will be the order of the day as the Christmas celebrations begin with a variety of entertainment. Late-night shopping starts on November 23 and takes place every Wednesday until December 21, but please contact individual stores to find out specific opening times.

What not to missColchester hosts a festive Farmers’ Market on December 2 and 16, giving you a great opportunity to get all of your supplies for the big day. With a wide range of stalls, Colchester Farmers’ Market is ideal for fresh, seasonal and local produce.Meanwhile, on December 14 there is a Castle Open Evening and Christmas Market in Colchester’s Castle Park from 3pm to 8pm. With the chance to explore the wide range of stalls offering all kinds of Christmas goodies in these fabulous surroundings, this is a great way to start feeling festive in the historic surroundings of Colchester Castle and Castle Park.

Find out more Call Colchester Information Centre on 01206 282920

Romford The Zingzilla’s, Zak, Tang, Drum, Panzee, will be making a special appearance in Romford, along with Santa and his friends Pip and Pop, They will all be there to help turn on Havering’s Christmas lights on Thursday, November 17 in Romford Market Place from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. The church bells will be ringing and fireworks will light up the skyline to add to the entertainment, so come and enjoy the family festive atmosphere and entertainment and make it a day to remember at this free event.

Find out more Call the London Borough of Havering on 01708 434343

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