THERE may still be 85 days until Christmas but preparations are in full swing for Colchester’s festive light switch on.

The annual spectacular will take place on Sunday December 1 when mayor Nick Cope will be joined by Santa to mark the official start of the season.

Christmas lovers can enjoy a host of festive fun which kicks off at 2.30pm.

There will be music and street performances before the big switch on at 5pm.

In Culver Square there will be performances from Colchester Citadel Salvation Army, Colchester Military Wives and the Rock Choir from 11am.

Special guests Elsa and Anna, from Disney’s Frozen, will be in the centre for shoppers to meet before they switch on the lights and fill the square with snow at 5pm.

A week later a Christmas market will take place between 10am and 5pm.

There will be two Christmas trees adorning the town centre, while little ones can make the most of Santa’s grotto at Colchester Castle during December.

There will also be free parking in council-run car parks after 3pm on the three Wednesdays running up to the big day.

Sam Good, BID manager at In Colchester, said: “Bringing Christmas to Colchester in style is something we have been looking forward to delivering all year.

“Everyone should come out to enjoy a carnival atmosphere and be in town to see Santa arrive and help switch on the Christmas lights.

“There’s so much to see and enjoy in Colchester and the atmosphere is going to be fantastic, so don’t miss out.”

Mr Cope added: “Christmas in Colchester is something for all the family to enjoy and something we look forward to every year.

“I personally can’t wait to join Santa on stage to switch on the Christmas lights and officially mark the beginning of the Christmas season in Colchester.”

David Robertson, centre manager of Culver Square, said: “All of the team at Culver Square are excited to part of the Christmas festivities.”

The theme of this year’s event is stars with Fenwick teaming up with the STARS schools project

Store director Nancy Foster said: “Christmas in Colchester is such a special time of year in the town and Fenwick is thrilled to be part of that community spirit.”