THE decorations may be up, the search for presents may be under way but the real sign that Christmas is just around the corner has arrived in style.

East Lancashire’s biggest pantomime is a colourful, musical spectacular complete with a gymnastic cat, an ice skating dancer, a chorus of singing puppets and a sackful of laughs.

Once again Blackburn’s ‘Mr Panto’ Phil Walker is at the heart of things taking the lead role and heading off to London to seek fame and fortune.

He’s the ideal man to connect with a young audience getting them to join in wherever possible and bringing the true spirit of pantomime to the stage.

Other highlights in the two-hour show are the would-be ballet dancer Sarah the Cook played by Madame Galina, the alter ego of performer Iestyn Edwards, and acrobat and gymnast Alexey Kofanov as Tommy the Cat.

As he flew over the heads of the front rows he had the audience transfixed and if you’ve never heard a cat sing a Carpenters’ song, now’s your chance!

Dick Whittington has been produced by the Stageworks and although the sets are a little low key compared to previous years the costumes are spectacular.

An underwater scene involving some dayglo puppets is worth the price of a ticket alone.

Although the first half gets off to a slightly sluggish start it certainly picks up in act two.

Dick Whittington has everything you’d want in a family panto from genuinely comic moments and a spectacular baddie to boo in the form of the statuesque Queen Rat to plenty of popular songs worked into the show with everything from Queen to Katy Perry and loads of audience participation.

So give yourselves an early Christmas present and get in the festive spirit.

*Dick Whittington, King George’s Hall, Blackburn, until December 31. Details from the box office on 0844 847 1664