Schools, community groups and families are this week busy putting the finishing touches to the lanterns they intend to take on the biggest illuminated parade Devizes has ever seen.

Dave Buxton, the artistic director of the Devizes Christmas Festival, says he is confident there will be at least as many lanterns in the parade as last year’s record-breaking 700 plus. This year it could be as many as 1,000.

He said: “We will definitely have as many as last year but it could be a lot more.

“There are more schools involved in this year’s parade.

“The Trinity School, which just opened at Easter, is joining in and a lot of new people have turned up at our lantern making workshops.”

In fact, so many turned up at the free sessions in the Crown Centre, that a second room had to be used for the workshop.

Mr Buxton said: “A lot of new people have moved into the area recently and they have heard about the lantern parade and what a great thing it is to be involved in.

“It is a measure of what a strong, vibrant community Devizes has.”

Last year the star of the show was a full-size unicorn lantern, which also featured in the parade to the White Horse on Roundway Hill during the summer.

This year the same artists who made the unicorn have come up with something more chilling – a Great White shark.

Nursteed Community School, whose emblem is a white horse, will be bringing along a number of white horse lanterns.

The parade will form in St John’s Street from 5.30pm and will set off at 6pm led by mayor Kelvin Nash and local bands.

Then the parade will make its way to the Wharf via the Market Place and New Park Street, where it will collect Santa from his grotto and escort him back along Snuff Street to the Bear Hotel, in the Market Place.

Santa will then switch on the town’s Christmas lights from the balcony of the Bear Hotel.

Wiltshire Council has made the town’s parking entirely free all day tomorrow and there will be Christmas markets open from 10.30am. Santa’s grotto is open from 2.30pm to 5.30pm and entertainment will take place all over town from 5pm.

The switch-on will be immediately followed by a fireworks display.