CHRISTMAS season officially gets underway in Chilton tonight.

A light festival will be hosted by Chilton Academy Friends at the primary school, from 5.15pm to 6.15pm. Entry is 50p.

The stilt walkers and the Chilton Academy Choir will then lead a lantern procession at 6.20pm to Chilton Town Council offices, on Durham Road.

Residents are encouraged to take their own lanterns and torches, but no real flames.

On arrival of the parade at the Town Square, the council invites people to sing carols from 6.30pm prior to the official switching of the Christmas tree at 7pm by the Mayor and this year’s Gala Princess winner. There will be performances by Chilton Academy Choir and Ferryhill Town Band, a small fun fair ride and catering.

Sweet mince pies and ginger wine will be available, there will be refreshments for children and Santa has promised to drop by.

A road closure will be enforced from 6pm to 7.30pm.

Chilton Town Council has a memory tree in its offices at Hutton House, Durham Road, where people can hang messages in memory of loved ones.

Tags cost £1 and proceeds will go towards a campaign to buy and install up to defibrillators in the town.

The office is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 3pm, and during the lights switch-on event.

A civic carol service will be held at St Aidan's Church on Thursday, December 12 at 7pm. There will be performances from Ferryhill Town Band, Chilton Academy Choir and the Steel Pans.

Afterwards there will be a buffet in the church hall and everyone is welcome.