SANTA is set to kickstart Christmas in Braintree this weekend as festivities come to the town centre.

Residents can look forward to the George Yard Christmas Lights which will be switched on at 5pm this Saturday.

The switches will be flipped by Santa himslef followed by the town centre lights at 5.30pm.

Visitors will be able to explore the town centre with a Christmas market and visits from Santa Claus.

The market will boast street food with mulled wine as well as the opportunity to purchase bespoke Christmas gifts.

You’ll also be able to make your own Christmas decorations and participate in craft activities.

Radio Essex presenters Martin and Sue will be joining the stage at Market Place in Braintree town centre from 2pm, with music and entertainment taking place from 1pm to 6pm on the High Street.

The Lights Switch On event signals the beginning of the festivities at the Shopping Centre.

On selected dates from December 4, lucky children will be able to meet Santa and receive a special gift for £5 per child.

All proceeds will go to local charities, Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens and HomeStart.

George Yard commented: “We’re delighted to be getting into the festive mood here at the Centre, with the decorations up and the lights being switched on, on Saturday, it really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

"We look forward to welcoming all our shoppers and seeing the delight on children’s faces when they get to meet Santa.

"Being able to support two incredibly important local charities is an honour too and we are pleased to be able to provide such a lovely experience whilst shopping at the centre whilst contributing to our community.”

The grotto will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday for the three December weekends leading to Christmas as well as Christmas Eve.

To book a slot to meet Santa visit the George Yard website.

Bookings are for families up to 5 including children and adults.

Visit for more information.