CHRISTMAS officially begins in Knutsford this weekend.

This year the party starts at 1pm on Friday on Silk Mill Street, as the annual Knutsford Christmas Market opens its doors to eager residents and visitors alike.

As in 2011, the market will take place under cover, in two large marquees situated on Silk Mill Street car park.

Later in the evening, former Coronation Street actors Jennifer James and Lee Boardman – who are also patrons of Millington-based charity The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust – will turn on the lights alongside High Legh Paralympian Niki Birrell, Knutsford Royal May Queen Lakeisha Bradbury and Knutsford Town Mayor Clr Vivien Davies.

Santa will set off from King Street at 6.30pm, travelling around the town with his reindeer before the lights are switched on at around 7pm in Canute Place.

This year, to add some all-day fun to the festive weekend – which starts with the market and Christmas lights switch-on and ends with the crib service – Knutsford Town Council has arranged for children’s mini-fairground rides outside the old Town Hall, at the end of Princess Street.

Clr Davies said: “This year, as ever, Knutsford Town Council is very keen to ignite the festive spirit in the town with the Knutsford Christmas weekend.

“Last year the Knutsford lights switch-on made national news, and even BBC’s Have I Got News For You when a rumour went out that Harry Styles was coming along.

“Sadly, it wasn’t true, and isn’t this year either. But we’re so proud to have Paralympian and Knutsford resident Niki Birrell coming, along with TV stars Lee Boardman and Jennifer James, patrons of The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust.”

The weekend is rounded off with the crib service at 4pm on Sunday outside the old town hall.

St Cross Church is holding a Christmas Tree Festival over the weekend, Knutsford Methodist Church is holding a ‘sheep search’ and St John’s is putting on a fair that includes information on its current planning application – turn to page eight for more.

l For full coverage of the event pick up next week’s Guardian.