Barking and Dagenham got a festive makeover at the weekend, as a packed day of Christmas events saw the council switch on its Christmas lights in front of 3,000 residents. Barking Mad about Christmas returned on December 4th with a whole host of festive entertainment including carol singing, dance performances, magic shows and so much more. Santa saw 500 children in his grotto, who all received a gift, as well as the opportunity to join in a special elf hunt around Barking town centre and Barking Market. A number of workshops also took place, including holly wreath making, tree decorating and letter writing to Santa, which were run by event sponsors, McLaren and The Party Box. Local library, the Barking Learning Centre, also got involved with a fun workshop creating festive hats. London’s famous bear, Paddington, was also seen roaming around Barking spreading some seasonal cheer. Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, said: “Christmas has arrived in Barking and Dagenham, and it was such a wonderful sight to see thousands of residents bring some Christmas cheer to the borough.