London 2012: Olympic torch relay to visit 17 Essex towns in 2012
The 2012 Olympic torch relay will travel to 17 Essex towns and villages next year, organisers have revealed.
The torch will arrive in the county on 6 July 2012, when the procession heads from Ipswich to Colchester Castle.
It will then travel via 10 locations before heading to an overnight stop event at Hylands Park in Chelmsford.
On 7 July the torch will visit two more locations on its way into Hertfordshire and another three in north Essex as it travels to Cambridgeshire.
Among the Essex towns it will stop at are Maldon, Rayleigh, Southend, Hadleigh, Basildon, Grays, Brentwood, Harlow and Saffron Walden.
Colchester borough councillor Tina Dopson said it would be a "once in a lifetime experience" for people living in the town.
She said: "This is a hugely exciting time for Colchester and the surrounding towns and villages.
"It goes without saying that we are delighted and honoured that Colchester has been selected as a town to welcome the Olympic flame on behalf of the local community."
The leader of Thurrock Council, John Kent, said it was "tremendously exciting" for the torch to be visiting Grays.
He said: "Thurrock is the logistics hub for the Olympics and the fact the torch is coming here puts the cap on that.
"It's our job to maximise the opportunity for as many people to get involved in this."
The torch relay will also travel via Hadleigh, which will host the Olympic mountain biking events.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 people are expected to attend the county's overnight stop at Hylands Park.
A "community celebration" will be held during the afternoon before the torch arrives in the evening.
The free ticketed event will conclude with the finale of a cultural Olympiad event called Sparks Will Fly, which is being put together by artists and groups from across Essex.
Chelmsford Borough Council's cabinet member for leisure and culture, Ray Ride, said: "I can't wait to welcome the Olympic flame in Chelmsford after its route through north and south Essex.
"As the host community for the evening torch celebration, all roads lead to Chelmsford and I want to invite all residents and visitors to come and witness the spectacle of the Olympic torch."
Mark Reed, Brentwood borough councillor, described the announcement as "phenomenal news" for the town.
He said "We can show off what Brentwood has got to offer. Let's have a street party, because this is going to be good fun.
"It's going to be very colourful, very interesting and as others have said, a once in a lifetime opportunity."
The relay begins its 70-day tour of the UK from Land's End, Cornwall, on 19 May 2012.
It will conclude with the opening ceremony in Stratford on 27 July.
A total of 8,000 people will each carry the torch for 300 metres.