Children’s parade to light up Festival Place as it launches season of festive fun in Basingstoke’s “most magical Christmas ever!”

A spectacular light-up children’s parade will launch six weeks of non-stop festive fun at Festival Place, Basingstoke, in what promises to be the town’s most magical Christmas shopping season ever.

The town centre shopping and leisure destination has pulled out all the stops this year to prepare a full programme of events, competitions and attractions that will keep visitors in the Christmas spirit throughout November and December.

The most wonderful time of the year begins on the evening of Friday, November 16, with a parade and dance display featuring local schoolchildren alongside an array of magical woodland characters, including Squirrel Nancy Nutkins, Deer Darlington, Anka The Snow Hare, and many more! Not forgetting Snow White, from the Anvil!

The procession, starting at 6pm, will use the latest lighting technology to put shoppers at the heart of the event. The stunning switch-on finale will take place at 6.30pm.

Visitors to the launch event will each be issued with a band that illuminates. Ten lucky people will have their band change colour and will win a £100 shopping voucher for Festival Place.

After the parade, shoppers are invited to spend the evening exploring Festival Place’s huge range of top-brand retailers, leisure facilities and restaurants.

The parade is only the beginning, as a variety of festive events fill a fun-packed calendar throughout the shopping season.

Visitors will be able to try their hands at The Snowball Throwball competition, become a Stealthy Elfy in a laser mission, get hands-on with the latest children’s gifts at the Toy Lab, take time out in calming Christmas wreath-making workshops, get their pressies wrapped for a donation to St Michael’s Hospice, and get gift tips from the centre’s very own Fairy Gift Mother. Visitors will, of course, be able to visit Santa in his traditional Grotto on the second floor, which will be Destination Christmas. All the activities will be free for visitors.

Neil Churchill, Centre Director at Festival Place, said: “This is my first Christmas at Festival Place, and the first since a huge refurbishment which has transformed the centre.

“We wanted to do something spectacular this year to celebrate the changes, launching with an action-packed event that families will love, and then continuing throughout the season with the biggest and best programme of events and activities that Festival Place has ever seen.

“We’re really excited to capture that Christmassy feeling and the excitement that comes with seeking out special presents for loved ones in a magical, welcoming environment that has something for everyone.

“The whole Festival Place team are already feeling festive and can’t wait to welcome the thousands of visitors who will experience Basingstoke’s most magical Christmas ever this November and December.”

For the first Christmas shopping season, visitors will enjoy the benefits of Festival Place’s newly-refurbished car park with improvements including wider spaces, lights to alert drivers to free spaces, and more payment machines. And watch out – there are even rumours that Santa himself may be parking there during the festive period!

The full line-up of events and activities:

November 16 – Christmas Launch (6pm)

Join woodland friends, Nancy Nutkins, Deer Darlington, Anka the Snow Hare and Snow White in the magical parade through the forest to help wake up Snowy the Wishmas Owl and kickstart the season. The parade will end in Porchester Square and culminate in a grand finale of dance, lighting up a giant animatronic installation.

November 16 to December 24 – Snowball throwball

Visitors will be invited to test their aim at Snowball Throwball! On your marks, get set, throw! Throw some magic at Snowball Throwball!

November 16 to December 24 – Gift Guide Live

Stuck for gift ideas? Gift Guide Live is here to help with your gifting needs. Hosted by everyone’s favourite Fairy Gift Mother on November 17 and 18, get inspiration and treat your loved ones to what they really want this Christmas.

November 24 and 25 – Cracker Station

Get crafty and join our elves at the Christmas Cracker Making Station! Fill your crackers with giggles, jokes and wishes to set your Christmas off with a bang! Super festive fun for all ages. Sponsored by Basingstoke Together.

December 1 and 2 – The Toy Lab

Try out the latest toys, gadgets and Christmas must-haves for little (and big) kids. All elf approved, of course!

December 8 to 22: Stealthy Elfy

Do you have what it takes to be a Stealthy Elfy? Get the presents under the tree without being caught to climb the leaderboard in this interactive laser game. Will you win?

Various dates between November 16 and December 16: Flower Therapy

Need a break from Christmas Shopping? Head over to the Hampshire Flower Studio for mindfulness wreath making. Learn a new skill and natter away in this adult only space – with no outside distractions! Tea and cake provided. Make sure to book your slot at the Customer Lounge.

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December (Led by Basingstoke BID on December 20) : The Happy Wrappy Place

Rubbish at wrapping? Need an extra pair of hands for those tricky presents? The Happy Wrappy Team are here to help! Festive Services are here to help! Get all wrapped up with Festive Services in aid of St Michael’s Hospice.

November 15 to December 24 – Santa’s Grotto

Come and visit our fabulous, festive grotto and meet a very special person indeed. A truly magical Christmas experience for all the family, open throughout November and December!

For further updates on Christmas at Festival Place visit www.festivalplace.co.uk/Christmas or find details on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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