IT wouldn’t be Christmas without the resplendent all singing, all dancing light switch-on events we’ve come to know and love.

As always this year there will be plenty of illuminating entertainment laid on across south Essex - and it kicks off this weekend will three switch on celebrations.

*Tomorrow (Saturday) it’s the turn of Southend when the town hosts its big switch-on event - and this year promises to be the biggest and best ever.

The day will feature nine hours of entertainment and fun taking place across the High Street and seafront including free face painting and lots more in the Victoria Shopping Centre and the chance to stroke a magical, lifelike polar bear, win prizes and meet Santa himself in the Royals Shopping Centre. 

There will also be a Christmas Market on throughout the day.

The excitement will culminate with an appearance by X Factor’s Matt Linnen, via video link live from the X Factor studios. He will be introduced to the stage by his sister, Rachel Beauchamp, and her daughter, Daisy
Basildon will also be gliding into the festive season with a light switch on ceremony tomorrow (Saturday).. The day of glittering festivities will include the opening of an ice-skating rink in the town centre. 

Visitors will be able to skate for free for 20 minutes at a time. The rink will stay open until Christmas Eve, from 10am to 4pm daily. Live entertainment and attractions including reindeer, face-painting, balloon modellers, stilt-walkers and jugglers will also be laid on. The lights will be switched on at dusk by Basildon mayor David Harrison, joined by the cast of the Towngate Theatre’s panto, Aladdin.

On Sunday it will be Billericay’s turn to light things up.The town’s festive lights will be switched on during an afternoon of seasonal events taking place in the High Street.
Revellers can enjoy a host of Yuletide fun from 3pm-4.30pm including carols from school choirs, Harmony Brass Band, dancers, live music and an appearance from Father Christmas.

* On Friday, (November 24) sparkling seasonal fun will be returning thanks to the popular ‘Leigh Lights’ event.

The festivities will begin from 5 pm. and the town’s Christmas lights will go on during the evening. Other events will include a Yuletide Parade, featuring joyful fundraisers including Essex Marching Corps, Starlight Productions, Players Theatre Company, Eastwood Lions and Southend RNLI.

This will start from Kings Road at 6.30 pm, travelling along Leigh Road, Broadway and Broadway West. 
Crowds will be entertained by a selection of local choirs and musical groups such as Funky Voices, Salvation Army and Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir, featured throughout the town at Liquid Flair and Oasis Café and in Elm Road. Leigh shops and businesses will be organising their own entertainment as well. 

A Festive Fairground will also be returning to the car park behind the Grand and a mixture of charity and concession stands will be set up in Elm Road. For children’s pre-event fun, stop by Leigh Community Centre from 4 pm- 6.00 pm. where you can enjoy craft activities, face painting, storytellers and more. 

Hockley will be switching on its lights on Saturday November 25. The honours will be performed at 5.30pm in Spa Road, but the event will be packed with attractions for the whole family from as early as 5pm.
Free parking will be available in Southend Road car park from 1pm. The day will feature a Christmas market and stalls, carol singers, seasonal characters walking around, festive food and Santa’s grotto in Hockley Library.

Brentwood will be lit up on Saturday (November 25) as the town hosts its own festive switch on. 

There will be entertainment, a Santa’s grotto, craft stalls and live entertainment laid on from 1pm-5.30pm.

On Thursday November 30, Rayleigh will be hosting its switch on event. More details are to be released next week.