Yes, it’s that time of year when Dorchester lights up with festive cheer – Christmas Cracker Night!

The Christmas Lights will go on at St Peter’s Church at 6:30pm on Thursday 7 December, with Santa and special guests in attendance. There will be entertainment and music to keep the family entertained, and Santa will be in his special grotto bus from 6.45pm.

Once again there will be a Christmas market in South Street as well as a craft fair in the Corn Exchange, starting at 4pm. Stalls are available for anyone producing and selling craft items at £17.50 per stall. To apply, visit www.dorchesterchamber.co.uk/dorchester-christmas-cracker.

And don’t forget to support the town’s independent retailers! Owen & Simpson in Antelope Walk offers a wide range of quality kitchenware and will always try to match prices. They carry KitchenAid mixers (as seen on Bake Off!) and are now selling Smeg small appliances such as toasters and kettles.

Shoetrees in Trinity Street sell quality bags for both men and women that would make an ideal Christmas gift, as well as luggage for your holiday.

Autobitz, also in High East Street, offers a great range of accessories for the car-fiend in your life, as well as a huge range of spare parts.

Meanwhile if you want to sit down and rest your weary feet, The Horse with the Red Umbrella café on the corner of Trinity Street and High West Street – famous for its delectable home-made cakes – will be open until 8.30pm.

And don’t miss out on a visit to Dorset County Museum in High West Street – entry to the museum on Cracker Night is free. So make your way into town on 7 December and enjoy all Dorchester has to offer.

The shops will be open late for Christmas shopping and shop staff will be encouraged to enter into the Christmas spirit by donning fancy dress. The order of the evening will be fun!

There will be free parking in all council-owned car parks from 3pm, though on-street parking must still be paid for. Road closures will start at 4.45pm.

Brewery Square will be staging its Christmas market on Saturday 25 November. There will be mulled wine and treats, together with festive displays, live music and ice skating.

Live music starts at 4pm, with the main performance at 5pm and the big lights switch-on at 5:30pm.

Meanwhile there’s a chance to catch Santa’s reindeer as they fuel up on carrots and mince pies before shooting off into the skies to deliver presents all over the world. You can meet Rudolph and Blitzen at Brewery Square from midday until 2pm on Christmas Eve.

Poundbury’s Christmas Market is on 25 November at the Buttermarket. Father Christmas will be dropping in and there will be 30 stalls, including crafts, street food and gifts for people to browse.

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