A HUGE ice rink is set to open in Southend next week.

Organisers want the Elmer Square attraction up and running by Saturday, November 14.

It will take pride of place in the town centre for six weeks until January 3.

Southend Carnival Association and the Mayor’s Charity have worked to bring a rink back to the town for the first time since 2009, when there was one in Victoria Circus.

The new venue, holding 83 skaters at a time, will even be open on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve.

Carnival association chairman Garry Lowen, who admitted the idea came to him in the middle of the night, said: “Things like these normally take a year to plan, but we’ve done it in four months.

“It will open up on November 14 and they will have to do a quick build, but we’ve got everything in place.

“We are confident it will be a great addition to Southend this Christmas.”

The new attraction will be opened by international ice skating champion, Lulu Alexander, from Leigh,.

The rink will have a tent where people put their skates on, plus food stalls, while lights and music will illuminate those on the ice.

Trees in the area will also be given a Christmas makeover with festive lights.

The rink will be installed by the Blue Martini Group, which has done similar attractions in Manchester, Bournemouth and Galway in Ireland.

Money raised from the attraction will go towards the Mayor’s charities and the carnival committee.

Mayor councillor Andrew Moring said planning permission would have to be obtained, as a temporary event notice did not extend to six weeks.

He said: “Ice skating is something that is becoming more popular in England.

“The rink is in a lovely location, and with the lights on down there, it will have a magical, Christmassy feel to it.”

Alan Dadswell, owner of Toys ’n’ Tuck, in Queens Road, Southend, said: “We are right on the route to the rink, so I hope it will increase the number of people in this area.

“Even if it doesn’t drag more people into the town, it will, hopefully, retain people here for longer, so they visit more shops.’’ The planning application has been recommended for approval at a meeting next Wednesday.