CHRISTMAS in Colchester will be launched in style on Sunday, by lasers, lights and living statues.

The switch on of the town’s Christmas lights, at the Lion Walk Shopping Centre, will be the centrepiece of a festive day of fun.

It will also feature attractions, such as the world’s tallest jazz band, snow cannons and an animation show.

The day kicks off at noon, when Father Christmas and his helpers will start handing out sweets.

Street entertainers will begin at 12.30pm, including the towering jazz musicians, human statues and the Porcelain Twins.

The twins will help add colour to the day, as they roam the town centre on stilts, with lights making them glow.

The snow cannons will begin launching fake snow over the town on the hour, every hour, until Christmas.

In the main part of the shopping centre, a miniature version of the Colchester skyline will feature an animation of Father Christmas pulling his sleigh, projected flying over the rooftops.

At 4.15pm, the first of the town’s lights will be switched on in Culver Square.

The mayor of Colchester, U’s football players Magnus Okuonghae and Ashley Vincent, plus club mascot, Eddie the Eagle, will help turn the lights on in the High Street at 4.30pm.

The day will culminate with a laser light show at 5pm, in the Lion Walk Church car park.

Lion Walk Shopping Centre will be using the occasion to celebrate the completion of the second phase of its refurbishment project.

Paul Bentham, manager of the centre, said: “It’s a big thank you to both the retailers and the people of Colchester, for putting up with the mess and nuisance and inconvenience the work has caused.

“Hopefully, they will like what they see. It will be a bright and nicer place to be.”

Mr Bentham confirmed two new shops will be opening in the centre, in the run-up to Christmas.

Hawkins Bazaar and Christmas Magic will be opening stores.

The announcement of which retailer will be taking over the 20,000sq ft unit, in Culver Street East, will be made in the new year.