HALSTEAD'S big Christmas Light switch-on takes place today in the Public Gardens.

It's a bumper weekend of festive family fun in the town, with Halstead Chamber of Commerce's Christmas fayre taking place on the same day and a Christmas tree festival at St Andrew's Church on Saturday and Sunday.

The fayre will see a huge variety of stalls selling food, homemade gifts, arts and crafts, Christmas presents, wooden toys, jams and festive tipples.

There will be performances by Frederick Douglas Performing Arts Academy, fantasy face-painting and amazing Christmas tree stilt-walkers, as well as magicians, dance groups and choirs from until 4.30pm.

Youngsters can visit Halstead Library to write letters to Santa from 9.30am to 4pm, or meet the man himself at Townsford Mill from 10am to 1pm.

The Christmas lights will be switched on by mayor Andy Munday and youngsters from the town's primary schools between 4.30pm and 5pm, when children can also meet Father Christmas.

The Christmas tree festival takes place at St Andrew's on Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 12noon to 4pm. Admission is free and there will be mince pies, cakes and mulled wine.