Residents in the Shankill area are to be treated to an explosive start to the festive holidays when a fireworks display tops off a packed schedule for the annual Christmas festival.

Now in it’s second year, the Christmas festival, organised by the Greater Shankill Traders Forum, is a cross-community event sponsored by Belfast City Council and open to all ages.

This Friday (December 4) local schools in the Shankill area will come together for a carol service to launch this year’s festival.

A craft fair at 4pm will precede an open-air market by local business in the Lanark Way to Shankill Parade area.

The main man in red will arrive in style to this year’s Santa parade on a trike accompanied by the cast of Frozen, while Spiderman and Optimus Prime will be mingling with the crowd.

Over 5,000 turned out last year to watch IBF super bantamweight champion Carl Frampton turn on the Christmas tree lights and this year the bar has been set equally high with the inclusion of Michael O’Neill, fresh from managing the Northern Ireland team to a place in this summer’s European Championships in France.

Santa’s grotto is free to experience for all children, while open air music and fireworks will round off a day of family fun.

Greater Shankill Traders Forum chairman, Walter McCrea, said: “Last year’s Christmas festival was a great success with over 5,000 people coming to the Shankill from all sides of the community to enjoy a fun-filled family night and we would like to replicate that.

“A lot of work has went in to securing a busy schedule events ranging from involvement from local schools to local businesses and even a few celebrity appearances.

“We would like to extend an open invite to everyone and encourage them to come along and see the great line-up of entertainment we have to offer.”

For more information you can visit the Greater Shankill Business & Traders Forum Facebook page.