The Festive Season in Swindon's town centre will begin with a two-day spectacular called The Magic of Christmas.
It was announced by inSwindon BID, the organisation tasked with promoting the town centre and its businesses.
Taking place across Wharf Green and Canal Walk on the weekend of 20 and 21 November, the celebration is promised to be an exciting two days of free festive treats including Santa in his sleigh with some special friends, a 30-metre snow machine creating a winter wonderland, a giant snow globe big enough to fit all the family inside, a life-sized Nutcracker King Trail, selfies in Santa’s sleigh, and Creation Station art activities from Totally Crazy.
There will also be festive food stalls, music, entertainment, Christmas lights and more.
Anita Bellinger, Executive Director at inSwindon BID, said: "After the last 20 months and not being able to celebrate the start of Christmas in person last year, we can't wait to bring people together for a whole weekend of festivities!
"That’s why we decided to have the event over two whole days instead of an evening as it has been previously. We want to make it a big, fun weekend with something for everyone. And bring people together in a way that feels covid-safe and accessible for all.
"Even Santa's selfie sleigh will be wheelchair-accessible, one of only a handful in the UK, so that everyone can be included. We've got loads of activities to make magical memories with friends and family. And of course the town centre will be lit up with all the beautiful Christmas lights.
"The town centre shops and hospitality venues will be open and ready to welcome you. It's going to be a fantastic celebration to bring the community together and start the Christmas season!”
As well as the Magic of Christmas weekend, inSwindon BID are planning many other festive activities in the town centre throughout December. One of the highlights is the Nutcracker Trail. Ten 6ft Nutcracker King figures will be hidden around the town centre. Visitors will be invited to follow the trail to find them all - and be in with a chance to win top prizes including an Apple iPad.
A 12ft Nutcracker King will be part of the on-street Christmas decorations to draw attention to the trail and provide a fun focal point.
Anita Ballinger added: "Trails are really popular and we’re expecting this one to be a hit with lots of different people - from families, to date-night couples, to selfie-seekers, to work colleagues wanting a fun alternative to the office Christmas party. And people can feel confident about socialising in a covid-safe way.”
The free Nutcracker Trail will run from Saturday, 20 November to Sunday, 2 January. The Nutcracker competition booklet, which includes the trail map, will be available from the town centre from 20 November.
Other events include the Salvation Army Carol Singers on Saturday 4, 11 and 18 December at the Canal Walk fountain. There will be festive stalls from Saturday, 13 November to 31 December, except Christmas Day, and a festive funfair from Thursday, 16 December to Sunday, 2 January - but closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
inSwindon BID is also supporting the Theatre Square Christmas Market on Friday, 3 December. The festive market will bring together local artists, makers, musicians and food producers, with stalls across Artsite, the Central Library and Theatre Square. Central Library is also hosting art activities for children.
Further information can be found at swindontowncentre.co.uk and on inSwindon’s Facebook page.