PLANS have been announced to save Christmas in Colchester town centre this festive season and give struggling retailers a much-needed boost.

Our Colchester Business Improvement District (BID) has drawn up plans for socially-distanced festivities in a bid to bring shoppers into the town this December.

BID manager Sam Good said the group had gone the extra mile this year due to businesses’ struggles.

He said: “We fully accept this Christmas is make or break for our businesses so we are committed to making it as special as possible.

“It has been the worst year possible for the town centre and we want everyone to visit again this festive season and enjoy some Christmas fun.

“Even if we have to do things in January we will still make sure Christmas is celebrated in Colchester.

“We are planning for reopening on December 3 but everything we have planned has a contingency in place to move online if we have to.”

Festivities kick off on December 1 when a virtual light switch on event will be held, featuring footage of all of the town’s decorative light displays.

From December 9 every Wednesday will be late night shopping in the town, with free parking available from 3pm in all council car parks.

The group has organised a concierge service for shoppers and late opening hours will be focused on a quieter shopping experience.

A free gift wrapping service, run by the YMCA, is also being offered for anything bought in the town centre on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Empty units in the town will be transformed into an elves’ workshop and Santa’s post office. Although shoppers can’t go inside, each will have their own lights display and will be drop off points for the BID’s Postcards to Santa scheme.

A selection of the postcards will be picked out and receive a present courtesy of a town centre business.

A third empty unit, with help from charity Signals, will be transformed into an interactive screen display for shoppers.

On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays freelancers from the Mercury Theatre will perform their fun and informative “Elf and Safety” act in the town.

A promotional video has been created taking a nostalgic look back on Christmas in Colchester, which can be viewed online from today.