Get into the Christmas spirit with the welcome return of the magical Stockton Sparkles festival.

The hugely popular winter event promises to bring some Christmas cheer to residents and visitors alike over four weekends, and celebrations get underway with the Christmas lights switch on in Stockton town centre.

Christmas Lights Switch-On

The countdown to Christmas begins with a bumper launch night packed full of entertainment, including the annual Christmas lights switch-on, on Thursday 25th November between 5.30pm and 8pm.

Hosted by BBC Tees with entertainment from Santa and music by Phil Davids and the Good Times Band, Stockton High Street will come alive with the Christmas vibe. Gather near the Stockton Flyer plinth from 5.30pm for a full programme of entertainment on the stage before for the lights switch on at 6.30pm, with Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees, Councillor Kevin Faulks, flicking the switch to get Stockton sparkling!Community choirs will then lead a singalong around the Christmas tree, with support from Apollo Arts Musicians.

Victorian Fair

From launch night on Thursday 25th November through to Sunday 28th November, the fantastic Victorian Fair will be on the High Street where you can ride the 50-foot Ferris wheel, carousel and more, all for free.

Christmas Market

The four-day Christmas Market runs from Thursday 2nd December until Sunday 5th December on Stockton High Street and offers a wealth of tasty treats and festive goodies from local artists, makers and traders, all housed in fourteen winter wonderland wooden cabins.

Spiegeltent

Also that weekend, the popular Spiegeltent returns, offering a packed programme of festive entertainment. There’s free family activities and crafts by day and three nights of ticketed live music and cabaret shows at night, in partnership with Ku Bar. Those shows will see More Commitments play the Spiegeltent on Thursday 2nd December, with Black Cat Cabaret bringing a festive feast of variety on Friday 3rd December, and soul and funk band Smoove & Turrell playing on Saturday 4th December.

Tickets – including the option to buy seats in a booth for four to six people – are on sale now from www.arconline.co.uk (tickets for evening performances are over 18s only).

Reindeer parade

Five beautiful Cairngorm reindeers will lead a lantern parade down Stockton High Street accompanied by Santa and his elves on Sunday 5th December from 4pm followed by local schoolchildren and community groups. Don’t miss this dazzling display of colour and light featuring fabulous stilt walkers and puppets.

Christmas singalong

Stockton High Street will resound with a special Christmas singalong on Saturday 11th December from 10am to 3pm, with interactive street theatre and an array of music, including a community choirs performance.

Christmas Eve Traditional Market

Finally, you can shop at the Christmas Eve market on Stockton High Street from 9am until 2.30pm on Friday 24th December.

For full dates and times and details of everything Sparkles has to offer visit www.enjoyteesvalley.com/stockton-on-tees.