THERE was a festival atmosphere at an Alice in Wonderland-themed event in the centre of Boscombe at the weekend.

With the help of the Coastal Business Improvement District (BID), the Sovereign shopping centre played host to a three-day event, which included an Easter egg hunt, children’s workshops, a food festival and live entertainment.

Thousands of people poured into the centre throughout the Easter break to take part in the activities.

Alun Williams, manager for Bournemouth’s Coastal BID, said: “The Easter Adventure is the perfect opportunity to showcase the amazing diversity of what Boscombe has to offer local residents and visitors in the way of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.”

On Friday and Saturday the food festival took centre stage, with a selection including cheese, preserves and macaroons on offer for passing shoppers.

Gemma-Ann Lewis, whose selection of chocolate brownies was proving a hit with passers-by, said the quality of traders at the event was high and hopes the event will help create more community spirit.

“It’s good to showcase small businesses, particularly in areas such as this,” she added.

Children were kept entertained by comedy acts and face-painting was also on offer.

Wojcicheh Gulbicki, who lives in Bournemouth, said he had planned to go on a simple shopping trip with three-year-old daughter Antonina, but had been caught up in the atmosphere of the occasion.

“Antonina saw other children having their faces painted as cats and had to have it done too. She’s having a lovely time,” he added.

Shops in the Precinct, Sovereign and Royal Arcade handed out flyers and Easter stickers to children trying to find the ‘White Wabbit’ in their front windows. The youngsters were then able to hand their sticker-filled flyer to the Community Shop in return for a sweet treat on Easter Sunday.

The event’s organiser, Clare Belmont, said she was pleased so much free family activity had been on offer.

She added: “It’s thanks to funding from the Coastal BID, plus help from local businesses, performers and artists that we can host such colourful events like these for the community.”