It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Aberdeen!

Residents and visitors to the city centre can now enjoy a holly, jolly festive season following the official launch of the Aberdeen Christmas Village today.

Led by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s, the winter wonderland attraction on Union Terrace, now in its second year, is bigger, better and promises even more Yuletide fun.

Elaine C Smith and Alan McHugh took time out from their busy pantomime schedules to pay an incognito visit to the Aberdeen Christmas Village, sprinkle some festive magic and officially open it to the public. The duo will delight north-east audiences in the panto Dick McWhittington at His Majesty’s Theatre.

Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: "The Christmas Village is a very exciting feature of Aberdeen’s Winter Festival.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Aberdeen Inspired and Codona’s again to bring what is the biggest and best ever festive offering to the city.

“The Christmas Village compliments Aberdeen’s packed Winter Festival and will help to draw people into the city centre. It was hugely popular last year and I am sure that lots of people from the city, the surrounding area and from further afield will enjoy all that the Christmas Village and Aberdeen’s Winter Festival have to offer this year.”

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to the Aberdeen Christmas Village and are thrilled to be marking the official launch today. It was a tremendous success last year and we are pleased to bring back an even larger event which creates a wonderfully festive heart in the city centre.

“Aberdeen Inspired has worked hard alongside our partners Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s to bring together a fantastic experience and we are looking forward to seeing everyone get into the Christmas spirit.

“This year we are delighted to announce the introduction of ‘Inspired at the Village’, which will showcase the work of an array of local artists and craft makers ,which we would urge the public to look at to see what is on offer.

“All the funfair favourites are back this year and we are pleased to have been able to increase the size of the ice-rink by 50%, which is always a huge draw for the crowds. We have also doubled the amount of traditionally themed market stalls which will host quality gifts and produce.

“One of Aberdeen Inspired’s primary aims is to increase footfall within the city centre and we are sure that the attractions of the Aberdeen Christmas Village will do exactly that, while also bringing in benefits to local restaurants, businesses and shops as people enjoy everything our great city has to offer.”

This year children will love the addition of the helter skelter and thrill seekers will welcome The Blizzard along with a variety of funfair rides. The seasonal atmosphere will be heightened in the entertainment marquee ‘Moose’, which will host a variety of performers throughout the duration of the Christmas Village.

Visitors will be able to get started on those Christmas present lists as organisers have doubled the number of picturesque market stalls – and enjoy sampling the offerings from the festive food and drink stands.

Alfred Codona, director of Aberdeen-based family amusement firm Codona’s, said: “We are pleased to be delivering the Aberdeen Christmas Village again, particularly as the public enjoyed it so much last year and flocked to the city centre.

“At Codona’s, it is our aim to create an exciting and fun atmosphere for visitors to our attractions and we have a new addition to our offering, the helter skelter, as well as the usual favourites. We are looking forward to continuing our work with Aberdeen Inspired and other partners throughout the festive period to ensure a fun experience for all this Christmas.”

The Aberdeen Christmas Village is open from November 25 to Sunday January 8. It is part of the Winter Festival which is being organised by Aberdeen City Council. Union Terrace is closed until January 15 to accommodate the village, with a number of traffic measures in place for the duration. Please ensure you plan ahead and for more information visit www.aberdeenchristmas.co.uk/plan-your-visit

Aberdeen City Council is also working in partnership with Aberdeen Inspired to provide free high-speed Wi-Fi for visitors to the Winter Festival. Access to the network will be available from Union Terrace and Union Street from Bridge Street to the Castlegate. This additional service is supported by the Council’s Being Digital programme to encourage digital connectivity among visitors to the sites.

Visitors can click on the Aberdeen-City-Connect Wi-Fi option and will be prompted to a login form.

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

More information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com