THERE will be six weeks of non-stop festive fun in the run up to Christmas at a Basingstoke shopping centre, it has been revealed.

A light-up children’s parade will launch six weeks of festive activities at Festival Place, in centre bosses are calling the 'town’s most magical Christmas shopping season ever'.

The programme begins on the evening of Friday, 16 November, with a parade and dance display featuring schoolchildren alongside an array of woodland characters, including Squirrel Nancy Nutkins, Deer Darlington, Anka The Snow Hare, and more along with Dani Harmer, aka Snow White, from the Anvil's pantomime.

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

The stunning switch-on finale will take place from 6pm.

Elsewhere in the run up to Christmas, Festival Place 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 Christmas wreath-making workshops, get their gifts wrapped for a donation to St Michael’s Hospice, and get present tips from the centre’s very own Fairy Gift Mother.

Meanwhile, Santa will be 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.”

The full line-up of events and activities are:

November 16 – Christmas Launch

Join Nancy Nutkins, Deer Darlington, Anka the Snow Hare and Snow White in a 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 finale of dance, lighting up a giant animatronic installation.

November 16 to December 24 – Snowball Throwball

Visitors will be invited to test their aim in the Snowball Throwball competition.

November 16 to December 24 – Gift Guide Live

Gift Guide Live will offer advice on gifting needs, hosted by the Fairy Gift Mother on November 17 and 18.

November 24 and 25 – Cracker Station

Shoppers can crafty and join the Festival Place elves at the Christmas Cracker Making Station.

December 1 and 2 – The Toy Lab

Visitors can try out the latest toys, gadgets and Christmas must-haves for little, and not so little, kids.

December 8 to 22: Stealthy Elfy

Interactive laser game in which challengers must get the presents under the tree without being caught to climb the leaderboard.

Various dates between November 16 and December 16: Flower Therapy

The Hampshire Flower Studio will host wreath making workshops for adults only. Tea and cake will be provided. Book attendance in advance at the Customer Lounge in Festival Place.

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December: The Happy Wrappy Place

Get an extra pair of hands to wrap those tricky presents. Donations in aid of St Michael’s Hospice.

November 15 to December 24 – Santa’s Grotto

Youngsters are invited to meet Jolly Old Saint Nick in his grotto.