Festive season kicks off in town centres

CHRISTMAS came to Ipswich town centre today with the arrival of The Evening Star tree as the town's retailers spent the day preparing for tomorrow's launch of late-night shopping.

CHRISTMAS came to Ipswich town centre today with the arrival of The Evening Star tree as the town's retailers spent the day preparing for tomorrow's launch of late-night shopping.

Most retailers in the town will be staying open well into the evening every Thursday evening between now and December 21 to give people the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping after work.

The lights all around Ipswich will be switched on for the late night shopping, although the official switch-on will not happen until Sunday, November 26.

Retailers are hoping that a series of special events over the next few weeks will bring shoppers to the town centre.

Sundays have now become one of the most popular shopping days of the week and during the run-up to Christmas there will be special events in the town to attract shoppers.

The big light switch-on ceremony will feature Sooty and Sweep who are appearing at the Ipswich Regent pantomime this year, as well as the show's star Snow White.

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The wicked witch - in the form of actress Anita Dobson - is not expected in town for the switch on but her presence is expected to loom over the whole event.

The lights will officially go on as the shops shut after 4pm but entertainment is planned for the whole afternoon.

There will also be a light and firework show and those planning the event are preparing a spectacular snow shower.

A special Sunday Christmas market will be held on December 3 with an emphasis on festive fayre and there are also going to family-orientated events every Sunday during December.

Ipswich market will operate on the first three Thursdays in December in addition to its normal days and there will also be stalls on the Cornhill on Christmas Eve, which is a Sunday.

And Ipswich is not the only town in Suffolk gearing up for Christmas.

Felixstowe's Christmas lights, put up each year by the town's Lions Club with funding from traders and the town council, will be lit on Saturday, December 2, while Woodbridge's tree lights will be switched on as part of a Children's Christmas evening in the Thoroughfare on Friday, December 8.

Woodbridge will also have a late-night shopping event on Friday, December 15 when shops will stay open until 8.30pm.

In Stowmarket, December 1 is the big day for the lights to go on with a special event from 6pm. There will be late night shopping in the town the following Friday, December 8.

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www.ipswichristmas.com