SOUTHEND will come alive tomorrow night as thousands of families join together in a city centre extravaganza to mark the start of Christmas.

Traders are hoping to see a bumper turnout tomorrow for the big Southend Christmas lights switch-on and the culmination of the weekly seafront fireworks bonanza.

Festive fun will fill the High Street from midday tomorrow before the Christmas lights switch-on at 6pm and a fireworks display on the seafront at 7.30pm.

Traders are hoping it will bring just the boost they need during the quieter winter months.

As an added boost, Southend Council has confirmed that all-council managed car parks will be free throughout every Sunday in December in the hope of giving residents an extra incentive to come to the high street and seafront and splash the cash in the build up to Christmas.

Mum Amy Hardy, 32, from Westcliff, said: “We can’t wait. We missed all this during the pandemic. It’s so great that it still happens, a lot of places have stopped. My daughter is singing on stage. It should be amazing.”

Martin Richardson, owner of the Happidrome Arcade, said: “Anything that acts against the cost-of-living, and anything that is a boost city centre, is good.

“It works well after 6pm on the seafront, so it will be great for a full day across the city.

“It has been very hard for all of us this year, so anything to stop people travelling out the area where there is free parking, will work great.

“Anything you put on out of season in Southend is a boost during summer season we don’t need anything. We have miles of perfectly good beaches, which people come down for.

“But, out of season like we are now, we need additional things happening, like the Christmas switch on or Christmas markets. We need to give people a reason to come to Southend.

“So, it is a win, win for everyone.”

Tomorrow, thousands of people are set to head to Southend for a festive day as the Christmas lights are switch on.

Paul Thompson, owner of the Pebbles One cafe, added: “I think any reduction in paring fees is good for locals and business as it allows people to shop for free in a way, without paying parking charges.

“I think Southend high street demise has been in full sight of everyone so anything council can do to help traders and businesses across Southend is welcomed.

“We have had and got the fireworks too, they have been extremely popular, and I know people come far and wide to see those so hopefully that will help this weekend too.

“Events like this helps us be an all-year-round resort in Southend.”