NOVEMBER 24 2006, DEVIZES: THIS year's Devizes Christmas Festival on November 24 will have even more entertainment than usual, thanks to a grant from a national housebuilding company.

Entertainers from near and far will make the now traditional accompaniment to the switch-on of the town's Christmas illuminations even more of an extravaganza than usual.

As usual a stage will be put up at one end of the Market Place where talented guitar-playing artistes, including one playing upside down, pop musicians, classical singers and a jazz band promise a feast for both eyes and ears.

Among the street entertainers worth looking out for are upside-down busker Ivan Inversion, playing his guitar from an entirely different angle, and one-man-band Loony Balloony, who, between numbers, twists balloons into interesting shapes.

This year's stilt walkers, who are always a popular draw, are two Giant Fairies.

On stage from 5pm is local guitarist and vocalist Peter Assirati, followed by pop band Avanti and classical duo Paula Nisbet and Barbara Gompels, together known as Due Voci.

Following the lantern-lit parade around the town, the Red Hot Santas jazz band will be followed by operatic selections from White Horse Opera.

Meanwhile, in The Brittox, choirs from local primary schools will sing carols and Christmas songs and Kaya Drums from Marlborough will beat out a crazy rhythm.

The programme of entertainment is entirely free to the people of Devizes thanks to a £1,000 donation from Crest Nicholson plc.

This is on top of the £5,500 from npower, which has financed lantern workshops for local groups.

The lantern parade will be led off by the Wyvern Band and Devizes samba band, Oi Sambistas!, will bring up the rear.