FINAL plans are being made for this year’s Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre which has grown into one of the country’s biggest festive events.

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The three-day event, which opens tomorrow, is a sparkling mixture of several markets and a host of family entertainment rolled into one.

About 100,000 people are expected to experience this year’s seasonal celebration which features many new attractions and involves more businesses than ever before. The event brings an estimated £1million boost to the local economy.

For the first time there will be a Friday Provisions Market in the Cornhill and Buttermarket.

Traders who are part of the town’s 1,000-year market tradition will have stalls on Friday and Saturday.

On Sunday there will be a Farmers’ Market showcasing locally-produced and sourced food and drink, including cakes, pies, bread, real ales, wine and meat.

Visitors will find about 300 stalls across the town centre, with more traders at the Arc Shopping Centre this year and Hatter Street, off Abbeygate Street, also closed to traffic to allow street trading.

Many shops and businesses will have special offers and promotions during the fayre and will be opening later for people who like the special atmosphere created by the Christmas lights and evening shopping.

As well as the cafes, pubs and restaurants town-centre churches are also offering refreshments and somewhere to take a break from the hustle and bustle.

The range of music and entertainment is bigger and more varied this year. There is a packed programme scheduled for the two large stages, sponsored by Greene King and Music Sales, on Angel Hill, and at the Arc. These will feature jazz, blues, folk, rock, carols and Christmas music. Many of the entertainers are local schools, groups and choirs.

Visitors can also take part in the carol services in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, tomorrow and Saturday, at 2pm and 3pm, and shoppers can expect to come across buskers, street theatre, jugglers, stilt walkers and Morris dancers.

At Moyse’s Hall Museum the stallholders will be dressed in costume for the Historical Market where there will be unusual crafts and gifts for sale. And the Abbey Gardens will be a draw for younger visitors where they can see reindeer and talk to Father Christmas in his grotto (Friday 3pm to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm) and experience a new attraction for 2012, the snow dome on Saturday and Sunday. There will also be an oldfashioned penny arcade and magic show.

People of all ages will enjoy the living Nativity Scene near the cathedral, with donkeys, goats and sheep and on Sunday the Santa Run takes place, setting off from the Arc at 10am. The annual fun run in Santa costumes raises money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.

Full details of the Christmas Fayre can be found in the 2012 leaflet available from the Tourist Information Centre, call 01284 764667 or go to tic@stedsbc.gov.uk

Will you be at the Christmas Fayre? Send us your video and photos via suffolk.iwitness24.co.uk. For more Christmas news, see our Perfect Christmas section.

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