79A NORTH East town has unveiled plans to make winter wonderful with a packed programme of events and activities.

Throughout December, shoppers and visitors to Darlington town centre will be treated to everything from Christmas activities to music performances – and the chance to sample some of the area’s finest food.

The festive season will officially get under way on Thursday 26 November with the switching on of the Christmas lights at the Market Square and traders, from the popular Sunday People’s Market, showcasing their wares from stalls at High Row.

On Sunday, 29 November, the Cornmill Centre will play host to a reindeer parade from 11am, while, on Saturday, 5 December, Bondgate will be transformed into an alpine activity centre, with four log cabins, each hosting a fun Christmas activity.

Visitors will be able to create their own Christmas decorations or Christmas wreaths, while youngsters will be helped to write a letter to Santa Claus.

The following Saturday; 12 December will be music-themed, with North Tyneside Steel Band, Cockerton Brass Band and assorted vocalists performing at Northgate, Blackwellgate, Bondgate and High Row.

There will also be festive food, such as roast chestnuts and mulled apple juice, throughout the day.

And, on Saturday, 19 December, younger visitors to Blackwellgate will be entertained with a Christmas-themed educational display featuring live Humboldt penguins, courtesy of Penguin Encounter.

“This year, in the run up to Christmas, there really will be something for everyone,” said Alex Hirst, manager of Distinct Darlington, which was formed to promote businesses through the town centre and has organised the winter events.

“While our Winter Wonderland ice rink has been hugely popular for the past couple of years, we thought it would be nice to ring the changes and ensure the festive fun isn’t just centred around the Market Square, but is spread as widely as possible throughout the town centre.

“So, with the support of our town centre businesses, we have created a bigger and better programme of events, which offers a variety of family-friendly activities for all ages.”

For further information visit www.distinctdarlington.co.uk.