Here is Neil D'Arcy Jones' top picks for things to do in north Essex this week. 

1. Colchester Christmas Street Market, Town Centre, Colchester, Sunday, December 9, 10am to 5pm.

It’s always a treat to have the High Street closed and it’s even better when its jam-packed full of traders whose stalls offer up a gift item or two. Organised with support from Food and Drink Festivals UK, there will also be plenty of street food and children can enjoy funfair rides, a Hall of Mirrors, and storytelling from Footprints Street Theatre.

2. Aladdin, Headgate Theatre, Chapel Street North, Colchester, until Sunday, 7pm (Wednesday to Saturday) and 2pm (Saturday and Sunday), £12, £9 concessions. 01206 366000.

Written by Ben Croker, directed by Charlie and with a very familiar cast of local actors, enjoy a fast-moving, up-to-date telling of this traditional story.

3. The Hare and The Tortoise, Colchester Arts Centre, Church Street, Colchester, 10.30am and 12.30pm. £5.95. 01206 500900.

Norwegian theatre company RukRuk return with Aesop’s fable where the fast hare competes with the slow tortoise, adapting it for modern times, where the moral of the story remains the same but the story is told in a new manner and the main characters are represented as humans.

4. SlackFolk, Piatto Café, Priory Walk, Colchester, 2pm. Free but donations welcome. 07850 773291.

The last meeting for the year on the bill this weekend will be the finger-style acoustic sounds of Ben Pegley, and SlackFolk favourites Grasshopper, consisting of Richard Brazear (SlackFolk’s MC), Elaine Watson and Angela Dennis. There’s also Scarlets Road, and poetry from Barrie Strawson.

5. The Bagman’s Uncle and The Bagman’s Uncle’s Friend by Charles Dickens (Adapted by Robert MacCall), Headgate Theatre, Chapel Street North, Colchester, Monday, 7.30pm. £13, £10 concessions, £7 accompanied children. 01206 366000.

Robert MacCall makes a welcome return to the town with a seasonal show that’s now as traditional as mince pies and mistletoe. This year there’s a little twist as Robert performs his adaptation of two hilarious and exuberant tales from The Pickwick Papers. Set in the pre-Victorian era, these are the adventures of the Bagman’s Uncle and his friend. Both are travelling salesmen, with all the freedom and adventure of the open road before them.