CHRISTMAS lights will be switched on in Poole at the end of November to mark the beginning of the festive season.

A series of free, family-friendly events will take place ahead of Christmas Day, starting with the switch-on in Falkland Square at 5.45pm on Thursday, November 29.

Stars of pantomime Dick Whittington will join Mayor of Poole, Cllr Sean Gabriel, for the event.

The following day will see live entertainment outside the Dolphin Shopping Centre from 11am until 7pm. A day of children’s entertainment, face painting, games, activities, and magic shows will take place on Saturday, December 1. Professor Bubblewubble will also be performing his live show.

The weekend’s festivities culminate with the annual Santa Parade on Sunday, December 2. Santa will arrive at 11am on Poole Quay, transported by City Cruises, after which the procession will lead through the town to Falkland Square. Everyone is encouraged to come down in fancy dress and join the parade.

Afterwards, Step Back in Time at Scaplen’s Court takes place from 12pm until 3pm, with historical Christmas crafts for all ages.

Justin Hundley-Appleton, Poole BID manager, said: “This Christmas we’ve got a whole host of different activities and free entertainment lined up for the whole family to enjoy. We want to make sure that everyone is supporting their local high street this festive season, there’s so much on offer and something for everyone.

“We’ve also got a giant Christmas snow globe for the perfect Christmas selfie, and a cosy outdoor seating area where everyone can enjoy hot drinks and a bite to eat.”

As well as the opening weekend, Poole BID will be hosting a series of Christmas movie nights on Thursdays throughout December with family favourites such as The Muppet Christmas Carol, Santa Clause the Movie and Happy Feet. Showings take place outside Sainsbury’s at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

Parking for late night shopping will be free in all Borough of Poole car parks in the town centre on Thursdays from November 29, 6pm until 9pm, and on Sundays from Sunday, December 2, 10am until 6pm.

In addition, Morebus will run a free park and ride service between Creekmoor Park and Ride site and Dolphin Shopping Centre every 15 minutes from 8am until 6pm.

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