A festive crowd has turned out to a watch as a glittering Christmas lights display was lit up across Harrogate tonight.
Dignitaries, including Father Christmas, the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Jim Clark and presenters from Stray FM, flicked the switch at 6pm.
And with £25,000 worth of festive lights strung up around Harrogate town centre, it made for a truly magnificent display.
“It’s tremendous to see so many people here,” said Coun Clark. “The lights this year are better than ever.
“It’s so important that we have a good start to the Christmas season, and it all begins here.”
Crowds began to gather from 4pm, when performances began from local groups.
Among those on stage outside the Victoria Shopping Centre were the Harrogate Gang Show made up of local Scouts and Guides, Highfield School choir and Royalty 3, as well as Harrogate’s Rock Up and Sing Choir.
There was a festive feel with hot chocolates and mince pies on offer, and fake snow bubbles blasted from the rooftops.
“It’s superb, “ said Father Christmas. “It’s a wonderful atmosphere and there’s a great crowd.
“Children of all ages are here and enjoying themselves. That’s what Christmas is all about.”
Daniel Martin, 49, came from Kirkby Overblow to watch his wife perform in the Rock Up and Sing Choir.
“It’s great, there’s a good turn out,” he said. “The weather has been brilliant, and the town looks good.”
Anne McAvoy, 63, from Scotton, brought Grace, seven and Olivia, nine, pupils at St Mary’s School in Knaresborough.
“It’s all very nice,” she said. “Watching the children’s faces is fantastic.
Louise Baharie, from near Thirsk, came all this way with her grandson Oliver, six, to celebrate her 79th birthday.
“We’ve got a nice night for it!” she said. “We came just to see the lights.”
Mark Wishart, 42, who lives in the town centre, brought Meabh, four, and Cormack, 19 months.
“It’s great, although it’s a shame there isn’t a bigger space for this many people!” he said.
“We went into town for a bite to eat first and the whole town is really buzzing, it’s so much busier.
“It seems now that Christmas really is on its way!”
Sarah Hadley, 31, came with 15-month old Bobby and friends Jo Smith, Katrina Purvis and Nicola Hadley.
“The lights are really good,” they said. “We came to show Bobby, and he really liked the fake snow outside Brindleys and Hoopers. There’s a car covered in it!
“They look really pretty, and it makes everything feel a bit more Christmassy.”
Organisers were this year raising funds for the St Peter’s Church breakfast club, which provides a hot meal every day to around 10 people, as well as food parcels to a further 40 every evening.
It’s reliant on charitable donations, costing around £10,000 a year to run, and volunteers from the Lions Club were collecting at tonight’s event.
“It’s been a fantastic evening,” said Coun John Fox, chairman of the Harrogate at Christmas Group as he headed to a carol service at the church after the ceremony.
“We’ve had a full two hours of entertainment and people have really enjoyed it.”
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