IT'S the weekend again and we've put together a few things to keep you busy.

There’s a distinctly Hollywood feeling to this year’s Christmas Lights Switch in Southend High Street. Over four hours of free entertainment - including stars from Britain’s Got Talent and performances from two of Hollwood’s finest flicks - will all culminate with a dazzling firework display.

The warm-up to the Big Switch On, funded by Southend’s Business Improvement District (BID), starts from 2pm on Saturday 14th November.

Host Dominic Atkins presents a wealth of talent, including Britain’s Got Talent singer Gabz, up-and-coming local star Arianna and everyone’s favourite, Elsa from the Disney smash, Frozen. Matt Linnen, The Avenue, Dance Dimensions and Jessica Alice will also be entertaining the crowds as the excitement builds.

At 4:45pm join Martin and Su from Heart Essex for the countdown to the Big Switch On itself. They’ll be joined by Hollie Barrie from The Voice, the exceptionally gifted singer Marilena Gant. Bringing some raucous comedy and shenanigans to the proceedings will be the gloriously garish and gruesome Ugly Sisters from the Cliffs Pavilion theatre’s pantomime Cinderella.

Of course, with a Frozen-themed singalong courtesy of our Elsa lookalike, there has to be snow. So, whatever the weather, the Southend BID’s special snow machine will create a magical atmosphere and real winter wonderland around Victoria Piazza.

Southend’s Mayor, Cllr Andrew Moring will join Father Christmas - who will be taking a short break from his Wonderland Grotto at Adventure Island duties - to double-check who’s been naughty or nice.

At the other end of the High Street, the Royals Shopping Centre is putting on the festive glitz around its enormous illuminated reindeer. Between 11am and 3pm join Ryan the Lion and his Little Royalty pals for free fun and games. There are tonnes of prizes to be won too.

The day also represents a great opportunity to stock up on nibbley-gorgeousness and hand-made gifts. The Christmas Farmers and Craft Market gets underway in the High Street from 8:30am and runs all the way to 6.30pm.

Once the lights have been switched on take a stroll to the seafront and pick your spot down on City Beach in readiness for the firework finale at 7.30pm.

MEMBERS of an art group will put their work in display this weekend.

Canvey Colours is staging a free exhibition at Winter Gardens Baptist Church, in Hilton Road, Canvey, between 11am and 2pm on Saturday.

Paintings will be available to buy, and crafts, cakes, and bacon sandwiches will also be on sale.

For more information, call 07751 690033, or email

A SOUTHEND-BORN opera singer is returning to his home town this weekend to perform.

Alexander James Edwards, a professional operatic tenor, is performing at The Last Night of the Autumn at the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff, at 3pm on Sunday.

Alexander changed his name from James Edwards in September.

This is his first performance in Britain under his new name.

BASILDON’S town centre Christmas lights will be switched on at a celebration event on Saturday, November 14.

The Christmas Festival will include live entertainment, taking place from 1pm to 6pm.

The switch-on, co-organised by Basildon Council, Basildon Town Centre Management and the Eastgate Centre, will include performances by local musical and dance groups.

Essex radio presenters Ian Wyatt and Steve Scruton will be hosting proceedings from the main stage.

The event will also include a Christmas parade, led by the cast of the Towngate Theatre’s Jack and the Beanstalk production, as well as a visit from Father Christmas.

Characters from popular children’s TV series Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom will also be appearing at the switch-on, which will be followed by a fireworks display.

Kevin Blake, councillor responsible for leisure and the arts, said: “We are delighted Basildon Council is supporting this Christmas festival and the annual lights switch-on event.

“It is a great opportunity for residents to turn up in force and enjoy a community festival in our town centre with the promise of some great music, fun and fireworks.”