Residents can expect a fun-packed evening for all the family when the festive seasonal celebrations are launched in Hartlepool.

The free event, culminating in the town’s Christmas lights switch-on, takes place in Church Square, on Friday (December 1), between 5 and 7pm.

Organised by Hartlepool Borough Council, it has the backing of main sponsor, X-energy, plus other supporters MKM Building Supplies and The Northern School of Art.

Event-goers will have the chance to meet stilt-walking performers, the Ice Maiden and the Snow Queen, plus other festive figures in sparkling costumes towering above the crowd.

The Angels will also make a captivating appearance, on a mission to spread peace, love, joy and laughter to the people of the town.

Illuminated costumes, neon halos and absurd humour will also be featured in what is described as, “unmissable international street theatre.”

The stars of this year’s Hartlepool Christmas pantomime Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, make an early appearance from Neverland, while there will also be a dazzling, winter-themed animated light show projected onto the Art Gallery tower.

The Northern Echo: The cast of Hartlepool's festive panto,  Peter Pan, will make an appearance at the town's Christmas

Created by illustration students from the Northern School of Art, it will explore the legacy of Hartlepool’s latest staging of a leg in The Tall Ships Races, earlier in the year.

Hartlepool’s favourite town mascots, Hartley and H’Angus, are also promising to join in the fun for the event.

Once the spectacle is over, visitors can browse around the town’s Christmas Market in the Art Gallery, featuring a feast of unusual items from a host of talented craftspeople.

The build-up to the switch-on will start at 6.30pm, when Councillor Shane Moore, the Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool, will be joined by some of the sail trainees from The Tall Ships Races, and Leon Flexman, corporate affairs director (UK) of X-energy, to illuminate the Christmas lights.

Hartlepool choir Songbirds will round off the events, performing a selection pf Christmas carols.

Cllr Moore said: “Come and join us for a magical evening filled with fun and festive spirit as we light up the town and start the countdown to Christmas.

“A big thank you to our sponsors X-energy, MKM Building Supplies and the Northern School of Art for supporting what I’m sure will be another fantastic event which all the family will enjoy.

“Christmas here we come!”

Carol Tansley, vice-president of UK New Build Projects at X-energy, said: "It's a pleasure to be a part of this event which signals the beginning of the festive season.

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“We know how well Hartlepool does community celebrations having been a proud supporter of The Tall Ships Races this year.

“As a power company, a magical evening based on lighting up the town is right up our street!

“We look forward to seeing everyone there."