A HOST of festive themed activities are planned for the Top of Town in a bid to support small and independent businesses.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is launching a programme of free family fun to be held in the town in the run-up to Christmas.

The festivities will begin this Sunday, November 21 when the area will be given a Christmas makeover with lights and festive window displays.

Scratchbuilt Productions will present The Guardians of Basingstoke, described as a “stunning light installation” in Market Square.

The monthly Borough Basket Street Market will return on Friday, November 26 with more than 20 stalls selling local produce and gifts.

On Saturday, November 27 Crafters Christmas Market will be held in Cross Street, while entertainment will be provided by Angie Mack’s festive hooping display and performances from choirs.

On Small Business Saturday on December 4, there will be mini wreath making workshops, family fun with Junk Jodie and carols from Basingstoke Gang Show at 2.30pm and 4pm.

The Borough Basket will have a Christmas twist on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 December, when Victorian carol singers will entertain shoppers with traditional classics.

A giant digital storybook displaying the festive classic The Night Before Christmas, narrated by Stephen Fry, will light up Market Square on both days between 4.30pm and 8.30pm.

From Saturday, December 11 a Christmas projection will light up the Willis Museum after dark, with showings every 30 minutes.

On Saturday, December 18 Hugh Fern and Lee Whittingstall will host some food fun with their mobile, musical Christmas kitchen.

The programme of activities is supported by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, the government’s Welcome Back Fund, Arts Council England, Without Walls, and Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Cabinet member for communities, planning and infrastructure Councillor Simon Bound said: “Christmas is such a magical time of year and we are delighted to present a fantastic range of free activities and entertainment for people of all ages in the Top of the Town throughout the festive period.

“There really is something for everyone. From arts and crafts, stunning light displays, festive performances and a fantastic range of small businesses to support when shopping for your loved ones, there is plenty to get you in the festive spirit.”