Park free and shop local for Christmas

A FESTIVE package of free parking and family entertainment is being lined up by Lowestoft's retailers in an effort to attract shoppers to the town in the run-up to Christmas.

A Christmas lights switch-on event - featuring live music, presenters from local radio and stars from the Marina Theatre's festive panto - is among the events uneviled this week by town centre leaders.

Meanwhile, Waveney District Council has agreed to make its car parks available free for late night shopping from 6pm on every Thursday in December and on Saturdays during December from 2pm.

In addition, all day parking on Sundays, will cost just �1 for local shoppers.

News of the plans comes as more and more retailers sign up to the Journal's Shop Local for Christmas campaign, which is being run in association with The Britten Centre and was recently endorsed by the town management partnership.

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Businesses are hoping the joint efforts of town centre leaders, the Marina Theatre and the council will encourage people to do their Christmas shopping locally, rather than travelling to Norwich or further afield.

Town centre manager, Emma King, said: 'We are very pleased to have got some concessions on parking for shoppers and we hope that people will back us with this, as part of shopping locally with The Journal's campaign, and also in support of the pantomime.

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'To get free parking on Saturday afternoons in December is very good - and so we would encourage people to take advantage of it.'

The festive fun will begin next month when the town centre is illuminated with a special Christmas lights switch-on and family fun day on Thursday, November 25. Heart FM breakfast show stars Rob and Chrissie will host the Heart Sound Stage from 5pm.

Former Big Breakfast host, Mike 'Squeaky' McClean and Hi De Hi's Nikki Kelly, will also be present alongside their fellow cast members from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. They, will be joined by Mayor of Lowestoft, Nigel Dack, along with special guests and family entertainment before the official switch on at 6pm.

In addition, a special arts and craft fair will take place in the Britten Centre along with children's rides and attractions in London Road North as town centre car parks open for free on the night from 4pm,

The council will also be opening both main multi-storey car-parks for late night shopping each Thursday until 8.30pm between November 25 to December 23 – with free parking for shoppers after 6pm.

Shops in Lowestoft will open for late night shopping every Thursday from November 25 until 7pm and, for those seeking last-minute gifts, between December 20 and December 23 shops will open until 8pm - with free parking for shoppers after 4pm.

More entertainment is planned during December including a family fun day, for which details will be announced in coming weeks.

Ms King, said she hoped the combination of entertainment and free parking would prove a success, and keep the town busy and vibrant: 'Our Christmas lights switch on event this year will be bigger than ever, Lowestoft has so much to offer with over 40 major retailers as well as independent stores and a host of cafes and restaurants for weary shoppers to rest,' she said.

Britten Shopping Centre manager Daniel Poitras added: 'With the first late night of shopping on November 25 coinciding with the lights switch-on, everyone can come down, enjoy the lights and festivities while starting their Christmas shopping as well.'

Encouraging the people of Lowestoft to shop locally, he added: 'The aim is to get more people back into the town centre and shopping locally, rather than anywhere else, as we have all the general retail shops you will find elsewhere right here.'

We want to get more people back into the town centre – we don't want them going out to retail parks or to Norwich, which is why the Lowestoft Town Management Partnership and the Britten Centre support the Journal's Shop Local campaign.'

• Be sure to check The Journal over forthcoming weeks for more details of the town centre's exciting Christmas plans, and the spectacular Marina Theatre Pantomime.

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