PREPARATIONS are now well under way for this year’s Grays Christmas Light Switch On.

The festivities will kick-off in the town centre on Saturday, November 24 from 1pm until 6pm with the big switch on at 6pm.

The event, sponsored by the Gazette, is being held in conjunction with Time 107.5 radio station, Thurrock Council and Grays Town Management Partnership.

There will also be a range of special guests at the big event including The Only Way Is Essex and Celebrity Big Brother favourite Dan Osbourne.

Other big names of course include the big man himself, Father Christmas, who will be on hand to meet children and families as the festive season is officially launched in the town centre.

Visitors and families at the event will have the chance to enjoy a huge range of free entertainment during the event.

There will also be a wonderful Christmas market selling gifts and festive favourites, in the town centre.

The entertainment and fun will be scattered around the town with the main stage positioned in the high street.

The excitement will be building throughout the afternoon until the big button is pushed to start the most wonderful time of the year.

Lewis Mills, town centre co-ordinator, said everything was now in place to make for a great event.

He said: “It’s going to be bigger and better than ever and it’s definitely going to be a white Christmas in Grays!

“We are urging families to come along, meet the big man himself, sing and dance the day away, and enjoy the Christmas market that is going to be on.

“We will have some very exciting headlines acts such as X-Factor finalist Matt Linnen and Towie star Dan Osborne who is performing in the Christmas Panto, Aladdin at Thameside Theatre this year.

“There will also be a magic carpet ride in association with Grays Shopping Centre and Thameside Theatre.

“There will be four different stations around Grays that you can go and meet different characters of this year’s panto – Aladdin.

“You can go to these stations, get a stamp and once you have all four stamps you can go and meet Santa at Grays Shopping Centre.

“It’s all 100 per cent free for everyone and we love to do that because it really helps serve the community.

“That’s what we really want, everyone to come together and just celebrate the town, Christmas and the community.”

He said that there is also a charity element to the big switch on too.

Mr Mills said: “Barbara Rice, the mayor of Thurrock is turning on our lights this year and one of her charities is the charity we have chosen for the event, which is Giving For Thurrock.

“This is actually a community fund that help provide funding for hundreds of Essex charities, all providing services for Thurrock people.

“If you can come along on the day you’ll see people collecting money and it all goes towards helping local causes in Thurrock.”

Mr Mills said that each year the event grows in popularity and hundreds of Thurrock residents join together to enjoy the fun and festivities.