A LOVINGLY handcrafted 6m tall fairytale castle has been installed in a busy shopping centre to bring a bit of festive magic to Colchester town centre.

Featuring Santa and Rudolph, the Christmas castle will go on display in the heart of Culver Square from Saturday for six weeks.

Centre manager Dave Robertson wanted to give visitors a theatrical welcome to the centre this Christmas and so called on the expertise of the town's Mercury Theatre for the project.

The resulting pink construction features Colchester themed stained glass windows, 500 fairy lights and was designed by Mercury scenic team member David Thomas.

Constructed using precision technology, it has been hand-painted by members of the theatre's freelance workforce, whose work has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tracey Childs, executive producer at the Mercury, said: "This incredible castle needs to be seen to be believed. It really is a magical sight and a fitting winter centre-piece for those shopping and visiting Culver Square.

“We are extremely grateful this opportunity has allowed us to offer our highly talented scenic team the opportunity to return to work.

"Freelancers have really suffered throughout the pandemic and our industry cannot survive without them.

"This has led us to set up several initiatives to try and help, including a confidential Hardship Fund, and I am thrilled that together with our multi-talented team and production facilities, we have been able to make fairy tales come true for the people of Colchester this Christmas.”

Funding to install the castle has come from Culver Square and Our Colchester Business Improvement District.

Mr Robertson said: "We immediately knew that the workshop team at the Mercury Theatre are experts in constructing Christmas magic and entertaining audiences every year.

"We are incredibly excited they have been able to help us achieve this and we can support the efforts of their freelance team in current times too.

“After the difficult year everyone has had, we are extremely pleased that we can still bring the magic of Christmas to Culver Square this year.

"The enchanting castle is really going to fill the square with that festive feeling.”

The Mercury is streaming its award-winning pantomime Cinderella for audiences at home this festive season with 50 per cent of the ticket income going directly to the freelancers who do so much behind the scenes at the arts venue.

Visit mercurytheatre.co.uk.