Countdown to Plymouth's Christmas celebrations 2012
THE ANNUAL winter festival will return towards the end of the month "bigger and better" than ever, it has been announced.
Plymouth's Winter Festival is returning for 2012 with events taking place across the city centre and waterfront.
Plymouth City Centre Company and Plymouth Waterfront Partnership are teaming up to provide a line-up of festive fun for all the family in the lead up to Christmas.
Now in its third year, the Winter Festival aims to attract shoppers from across the South West to enjoy Plymouth's unique retail offer, as well as its exciting programme of entertainment and events.
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This year Santa will have a new home in Plymouth, at his cosy Christmas Grotto on Frankfort Gate.
Officially launching on Thursday November 22, with the Christmas lights switch on, the city will be transformed into a twinkling festive haven, heralding the beginning of the city's countdown to Christmas.
The Christmas lights switch on will also mark the opening of the Christmas Market stalls on Armada Way and Cornwall Street and the redressing of the outdoor ice rink on the Piazza as a Christmas Winter Wonderland.
Shops in the city centre will be staying open until 8pm for late night shopping, as they will every Thursday throughout the rest of November and December.
This year there will also be a special Saturday Christmas Farmers' Market taking place on the waterfront, based at West Pier.
Local traders will be selling a wide range of goods including fresh bread, eggs, poultry, venison, handmade cakes and preserves.
The market begins on Saturday November 24 and will open every Saturday in the five weeks before Christmas, from 11am-6pm, with pop-up performances each week.
Barbican traders will be holding a one-off late night shopping evening on Wednesday December 12, with many of the independent shops and galleries staying open until 8pm and offering shoppers mulled wine and other festive treats.
There will also be an 'Odd Window Out' trail for families to follow along the waterfront and a photo exhibition of 'Christmases Past on the Barbican' run by South West Image Bank at the Tourist Information Centre.
Sarah O'Leary, Plymouth Waterfront Manager, said: "Everyone on the waterfront is really looking forward to the dining and shopping Christmas season and joining in with the festive fun."
The countdown to Christmas will continue throughout December, with the Twinkling Twilight Lantern Parade on Thursday December 6, which will see 300 local schoolchildren parading their handmade lanterns through the city streets.
There will also be a charity Santa Fun Run on December 9, breakfast with Santa at the ice rink on Christmas Eve, Dick Whittington in Panto at the Theatre Royal from December 14 to January 19, Cinderella on Ice at Plymouth Pavilions from December 26 to January 5, and a whole host of other festive shows across the city.
Clint Jones, Plymouth City Centre Manager, said: "The Winter Festival is definitely going to be bigger and better than ever this year – we're bringing back all the events which have been popular in the past along with some exciting new festive treats."