CHRISTMAS has arrived in a Basingstoke shopping centre with a special launch event marketing the start of five magical weeks of festive fun.

Festival Place began its Christmas celebrations on Saturday, November 18 with a fairytale-themed launch event based on the festive song The 12 Days of Christmas.

Shoppers were entertained with a performance from Basingstoke Rock Choir and various walkabout acts who engaged and interacted with visitors throughout the day.Basingstoke Gazette: Christmas has arrived in Festival Place

Visitors could also take part in a 12 Days of Christmas Trail, using a map to follow around the shopping centre to hunt for hidden clues, with the letters spelling out a musical word.

A free craft room is now open in Festival Place every Saturday between 11am and 4pm, offering Christmas-themed crafts for children to enjoy. On Saturday, children could also have their faces painted for free with Christmas-themed designs such as elves and reindeer.

The Festive Express train is offering rides around the shopping centre from the upper level for £3 a go, or £10 for four people, which will run every day until Christmas Eve.

Basingstoke Gazette: Christmas arrives in Festival PlaceSanta’s Grotto is now officially open, offering children the chance to meet the man himself and select a toy gift from his bulging sacks.

Shoppers can hop onto a turtle dove swing to have their photo taken.

Emily Palmer, Festival Place's head of marketing, said: “The 12 Days of Christmas becomes five weeks of full-on festive fun here at Festival Place.

“There’s free family crafty fun, our grotto and Festive Express, as well as top-brand and independent retailers, a great leisure offering, and food from around the globe.

“We are pulling out all the stops to make the centre look really magical, and we hope this Christmas will be packed full of memorable moments for all our customers.”

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