TOURISM bosses are hoping Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland will attract 500,000 visitors to town.

The new attraction launched on November 16 when 18,000 people turned out for the official light switch-on.

Christmas Tree Wonderland runs until January 2 and it is hoped that over the six-week duration, half-a-million people will flock to the town centre for the event. Around 300,000 people usually visit Bournemouth over the Christmas period.

Tomorrow night at 5.30pm and 8.30pm, visitors will be treated to brand new light and pyrotechnic shows at The Big Wheel positioned at Pier Approach in the next phase of the Christmas Tree Wonderland offerings. The six-minute shows set to music will run for six nights only on December 7, 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28.

While next week, new street entertainment shows will begin to delight younger visitors and families. The afternoon shows will take place December 13 to 16, 20 to 24 and 27 to 30. Highlights will include the Winter Fairy, The Snow Globe, The Snow Lion, The White Queen, bouncing snowmen, elves on stilts and roller skating Christmas puddings.

The free trail in Bournemouth town centre features more than 100 glittering trees and illuminations but the star attraction is a 60ft walk-through tree in the Lower Gardens which hosts light and sound shows daily every half hour from 5pm until 8.30pm apart from Christmas Day. Other attractions include the Christmas market and Alpine bar and the return of the outdoor ice rink. Southbourne, Westbourne and Boscombe are also involved in the Christmas Tree Wonderland experience with each coastal village taking on its own theme and celebrating in its own unique way.

To entice visitors and shoppers to Bournemouth town centre, free Christmas parking has been extended this year following concerns about the impact of the A338 roadworks could have on businesses.

This year charges are being waived every Sunday until December 23 and after 4pm every Thursday until December 20 at selected car parks in the run-up to Christmas.

There’s also free parking from 6pm until midnight every evening until Monday at the council’s Madeira Road and Avenue Road multi-storey car parks.