WE may still be in November, but the festive countdown has got into full swing in Colchester.

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The town launched its Christmas season with the unveiling of an animated window display at Williams and Griffin department store.

Hundreds of youngsters turned out for the spectacle and to catch a glimpse of Father Christmas. Later Colchester mayor Christopher Arnold turned on the High Street’s Christmas lights.

The rock choir was also present to help whip up a festive atmosphere in the town centre.

Councillor Paul Smith, portfolio-holder for business and resources at Colchester Borough Council, said: “The switch-on of the Christmas lights and events around the town centre mark the beginning of Colchester’s festive programme.

“The aim is to encourage local people to shop local, support local businesses and help to sustain local employment through these tough economic times.”

Michelle Reynolds, chairman of the Colchester Christmas Group, said: “We want local people to embrace the town this year, shop locally and support the festive activities.”

She added: “We also hope that the businesses of Colchester will fully support and embrace the festive opportunities and help to make this year special.”

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