A POPULAR Christmas event takes place in Basildon to officially mark the start of the Christmas shopping period.

The Basildon at Christmas event gets underway from 10am tomorrow with activities taking place in the Eastgate Centre, Town Square and St Martin's Square.

The Eastgate Centre will be home to a Santa’s Grotto and a festive walkabout, which will include Snowball Sprites, Ice Queen and the Elf, the Elvish Presents, a pair of stilt-walking Christmas Trees.

Other activities and events on offer include a market, food stalls, festive mini-golf, live performances on the Gateway 97.8 stage in St Martin's Square including a Robbie Williams tribute act.

The cast of this year's Towngate Theatre Panto Beauty and the Beast will be making an appearance while Basildon's favourite comedy nun, Musical Ruth, will bedriving around Eastgate on a baby piano singing festive songs.

Vintage singer Jane Darling will also be providing some Christmas hits.

The event will be brought to an end at 6pm in St Martin’s Square where a fireworks display will be held.

Looking ahead to the big day, Basildon’s mayor, David Dadds, said: "It's wonderful that the Basildon at Christmas event is returning after having to be cancelled last year because of the pandemic.

“It's an opportunity for the community to come together and get in the Christmas spirit whilst doing some Christmas shopping to boost local trade.

“There really is something for everyone to enjoy."