You may still be finishing off the pumpkin pie and picking up the remains of the sparklers but you may be surprised to realise that Christmas is just seven weeks away.

The Brunel Shopping centre, in Swindon Town Centre, has unveiled a packed programme of Christmas activities and fun to help you prepare for and celebrate the festive season.

Things get underway this coming weekend with the opening of Santa’s Grotto on Saturday 10 November.  Initially open just at weekends the grotto opening hours gradually increase in the run up to the big day.  Once again it’s free and will be situated on the first floor of The Brunel Plaza, between Marks and Spencer and Boots.  See www.thebrunel.co.uk for exact opening times and booking information.

Santa’s post box has moved over to The Brunel Arcade this year and has been upgraded to Santa’s post office.  This free event allows children to write their letters in the “post office”, and colour in pictures for Santa, with the help of Santa’s elves.  And with the assistance of some electronic magic parents and guardians will receive a personalised reply to take home with them.  Santa’s post office will be situated near Boswells Café.

Saturday 17 November is Swindon Town Centre’s annual light switch on which this year will be headlined by Tinchy Stryder and will also feature Jahmeme Douglas.  Throughout the lights switch on day there will be entertainment in the town including Christmas bouncing elves and Glo Hula Hooping Dancers.  The main stage goes live at 5pm in Wharf Green with fireworks from 6pm.

Back by popular demand is The Prospect Hospice Gift Wrap stall which, from 8 December, will return to the centre for a fifth year having already raised more than £16,000 for the hospice.  Shoppers can have their purchases gift wrapped in return for a donation.  The main stall will be situated outside Sainsburys in The Brunel Plaza, and from 17 December a second stall will open outside Boswells in The Brunel Arcade. Full details of the stalls’ opening times will be available on The Brunel’s website,www.thebrunel.co.uk.

On Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December The Brunel centre will be hosting a Christmas Arts and Craft Fayre.  Around 40 local artists, crafters and some of the centre’s independent retailers have taken stalls at the fayre so this will be a great opportunity for them to showcase their creative talents and wares and give shoppers an opportunity to buy unique gifts for Christmas. The fayre will be situated in the old That’s Entertainment unit opposite Starbucks and Kingsley Smythe facing Canal Walk and will be open 10am to 4pm each day.

Throughout all of December there will be weekend activities for children. On each pre-Christmas Saturday in December there will be Breakfast with Santa at various different cafes within The Crossing, The Brunel’s food hub.  A £4 ticket includes a child’s present and breakfast with Father Christmas himself.  Tickets are limited and available from participating cafes.

On Sundays it’s Elf School.  For just £2.99 each child can attend Elf School for an hour-long fun and games session, learning the Elf Commandments and culminating in children graduating as Elves.  Tickets are limited and only available online and require prior booking, seewww.thebrunel.co.ukfor more details.

Many of the shops in The Brunel Shopping Centre stay open until 7pm and in the lead up to Christmas many will open until 8pm.  Check individual opening times with each store.

All activities and events are promoted on The Brunel’s Facebook and Twitter feed and detailed information can be found on the centre’s website: www.thebrunel.co.uk.

Facebook:www.facebook.com/thebrunelswindon

Twitter: @brunelswindon

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