A GAME of Thrones actor and Britain’s Got Talent performer have been announced as some of the stars turning on Southend’s Christmas lights this year.

Southend High Street’s illuminations are set to be unveiled on November 16, officially marking the beginning of the festive season in the town.

Starting at 1pm on the Saturday, the town centre and seafront will be filled with music and fun activities for all the family, all before a fabulous firework finale.

Providing the central focus of the Lights Switch On, the main stage – located at the top of the High Street in Victoria Circus - will provide a showcase for talented local performers, including The Show Choir, Jahnell, Nathan Abbot and appearances from some of the stars of TV’s Voice Kids.

As the excitement builds towards the crucial moment when the illuminations are finally switched on, Southend Business Improvement District (BID) has lined up a variety of stars from the world of music and television to bring added sparkle to our town.

Southend’s very own Ricky Champ will on stage for the countdown, along with Graeme Matthews – AKA ‘Bam Bam’.

Ricky is best known for playing the character of Stuart Highway in BBC One soap Eastenders but his impressive acting CV also include the character Gatins in Game of Thrones Season Six, sitcoms Crims and Him & Her, plus appearance in movies such as The World’s End and Mortdecai.

Graeme Mathews’ skills as a performer have long been recognised as the popular children’s party entertainer ‘Bam Bam’ but it was when he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent that he achieved national fame, after wowing the judges with his quirky blend of comedy and magic tricks.

Meanwhile, the Visit Southend stage – near the Royals Shopping Centre - will be a community performance hub, where students from nearby performing arts schools and groups will entertain the crowds.

This stage continues the party after the big Switch On, with more fabulous acts and the perfect viewpoint for the final firework display of the season.

Up and coming musicians will also have the chance to showcase their talents by playing live sets at the various busking spots along the High Street.

Fans of ITV’s Voice Kids will be delighted to hear Charlie Dillon sing live in Southend, demonstrating the vocal talents that won him a place on Danny Jones’ team and make it all the way through to the nail-biting semi-finals.

Liv Lawrence is another Essex-based singer who made a massive impression on Voice Kids. Already an award-winner, 14-year old Liv already has the range and confidence to bring her own style to such classic songs as Proud Mary by Tina Turner and Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.

South Essex bands The Odines, The Rolling Machine, 2AM and the hotly-tipped alt-pop songwriter/vocal producer Bertie Scott also add the line-up of musical talent, while a variety of choirs, including The Show Choir, Southend VOX, Funky Voices, Sweet Charity Choir, The Rock Choir and the Little Theatre Company will bring a variety of Christmas carols and pop favourites to the day.

There will also be a giant animatronic Snow Lion walking around The Royals Shopping Centre, while there’s plenty of tasty treats and bargain buys to be purchased in the High Street markets, held every Saturday from the Lights Switch On and then every day in the week before Christmas.

On Sunday December 15, a very special market is being organised, with artists, makers and designers offering a wonderful choice of unique, handmade gifts.

Southend BID Manager Suzanne Gloyne said: “From the Snow Lion to some of the most popular acts on our TV screens, this year’s Switch On is a must-see.

“As well as a brilliant line-up of talented singers and entertainers, we have the jaw-dropping fireworks, the festive lights and, of course, our famous snow machine.

“Don’t forget all this is completely free! Which means you can spend more shopping in the High Street market or the terrific choice of shops, department stores and little boutiques in and around the town centre.

“If you find that you’ve truly shopped ‘til you dropped, Southend’s fabulous bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants are ideally located nearby to offer you the perfect pick-me-up, or make it even more of a special occasion with dinner out with your family and friends."