FAMILIES can enjoy a Greatest Showman-inspired parade at this year's Christmas lights switch on in Blackburn.

The event ­— called Blackburn Comes Alive! and also featuring pop star Kevin Simm ­— will take place on Saturday, November 23 from 12pm.

It will herald the start of a packed programme of festive events throughout the town centre.

The Greatest Showman parade will lead visitors from Cathedral Square, through The Mall shopping centre, and along King William Street at 2pm and 5pm, and will include stilt walkers and acrobatic elves.

The final parade will culminate in an all-singing, all-dancing finale show from 5.40pm when Father Christmas will carry out the official switch on from the stage outside the Town Hall, assisted by the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Cllr Jim Shorrock. The event will end with a spectacular fireworks display.

Catherine Price, Blackburn BID manager, said: “This year we have created a packed programme of professional, magical and festive activities to showcase the town centre and what it has to offer.

“We have events and activities for the whole family to ensure visitors keep coming back to Blackburn time and time again. We want people to believe in Blackburn town centre and make it their destination of choice for all things Christmas.”

The programme of free events on the day of the switch on will also include lantern-making workshops ahead of the Festival of Light Lantern Parade on December 14, a Frost Fair inside Blackburn Cathedral Crypt, aerial artist performances inside the cathedral, an ice dragon walkabout from King George’s Hall, Santa’s Fantastical Post Office grotto experience in The Mall, a magical illusionist and your chance to meet Peppa Pig at Blackburn Market, Christmas-themed craft sessions at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery and festive storytelling at Blackburn Central Library.

The stage on King William Street will feature local talented performers entertaining the crowds, including star of King George’s Hall’s Cinderella pantomime, former Liberty X singer, Kevin Simm.

Blackburn born award-winning children’s author Christina Gabbitas will read from her latest book and perform on stage with schoolchildren.

A schedule of events has been created running up to Christmas Day – including new events for 2019 such as the Frost Fair inside Blackburn Cathedral and Twilight Markets on Thursdays in Blackburn Market.

Cllr Phil Riley, executive member for growth and development, said: “It’s going to be a really impressive Christmas with a jam-packed programme of events that will be unique to Blackburn and very much family-focussed.

“There will be a superb start with a full day of events leading up to the Christmas lights switch-on with parades through the town centre.

“For the first time this year we will be hosting Twilight Markets on Thursdays.

“The markets will be opening late from 4-8pm, with pop-up artisan and craft stalls, a pop-up bar, DJ and live performers.

“The market will also be open every Sunday from December to give people the full Christmas shopping experience. There will be Christmas music and magic on the digital screen on Saturdays in December to bring some extra Christmas cheer into town hall square.

“This year we were keen to make sure this will be one to remember and we hope people will come from far and wide to help support local businesses, encouraging people to come into town and shop locally.”

The programme is a partnership between Blackburn BID and Blackburn with Darwen Council, supported by The Mall and town centre partners. Family favourites such as Cinderella in Panto at King George’s Hall, Sleeping Beauty on Ice at Planet Ice Arena, and Christmas services at the Cathedral are included in a guide, available to shoppers from The Mall, around Blackburn town centre or visit BlackburnChristmas.com