A FESTIVE extravaganza which last year had to be hosted virtually due to the pandemic is set to return to the town centre.

Colchester’s annual Christmas lights switch-on was one of the biggest celebrations of the year and would attract thousands of spectators ready to get into the festive spirit.

In the past Santa Claus would travel down the High Street in style and the previous Williams and Griffin shop would use the occasion to unveil its seasonal window display.

Last year’s illuminating event, however, was unable to go ahead due to concerns around social distancing so the switch-on instead took place online.

Our Colchester Business Improvement District and InColchester have since revealed plans to do the same again but Lion Walk shopping centre has promised an in-person switch-on.


Taking place on Wednesday November 17, the event will see Colchester mayor Robert Davidson turn on the lights alongside Father Christmas and Actual Radio’s Pete Chapman and Dom Atkinson.

They will also be joined by panto characters Widow Twanky and Humphrey The Camel as well as Disney characters Elsa, Anna and Olaf from Frozen with a snow machine setting the mood.

The United Reformed Church Choir’s Colchester Singers will soundtrack the evening alongside performers including Colchester’s All Star Rock School and Cushti.

The spectacle will be followed by a rooftop fireworks display before dance DJs, accompanied by live percussionists, keep the party atmosphere going into the night.

This year’s switch-on, which will also feature Bavarian-themed food and beverages,will be held in association with the North Essex Mind charity.

Our Colchester BID has also organised a host of festive events for families to enjoy and late-night shopping slots have been allocated for the last three Wednesdays before Christmas.

There will also be children’s activities, as well as music and food in Crouch Street, Sir Isaacs Walk, Eld Lane and Balkerne Gate.

Trails, theatrical shows, carol singing and the return of the interactive window on Sir Isaacs Walk will also be held as well as a Santa’s Mailing Office.

Sam Good, BID manager said: “We understand some residents will be disappointed there will not be a traditional High Street light switch-on.

“However, as an alternative, across our late Wednesdays from 3pm onwards we will be delivering more than any previous light switch-on.

“There will be opportunities for visitors to watch live performances, children to take part in activities, a raft of food and drink stalls that visitors can enjoy.


“With most of us missing out on seeing loved ones last Christmas, we want to offer our residents and visitors the opportunity to make up for lost time.

“We, along with town centre partners, are putting on more activities than ever before.”