A festive record crowd saw Christmas arrive in Peterborough as the lights were turned on by Santa Claus.
Thousands packed into Cathedral Square to see the Christmas celebrations start on Saturday evening.
The day started with an afternoon of entertainment on the big stage, with panto stars, music and other performances - and after the lights were turned on in Cathedral Square and Bridge Street, the celebrations continued in Queensgate, as their decorations were turned on.
Annette Joyce, service director for city services and communications said: “This year was the largest crowd we have ever had for a Christmas lights switch-on event.
“More than 6,000 came into the city centre, not only to watch the switch-on, but also to take part in the entertainment before and after, which included music, fireworks and our Christmas market.
“Peterborough is now officially ready for Christmas and we’ve got plenty of events still to look forward to. For those looking for the ultimate festive fix, entries are still open for our first Santa Stroll which will be taking part on December 17.”
A Christmas market will also be held through December.
A pantomime cast, including Peter Pan and Captain Hook took to the stage and put on a show for shoppers with ‘boos’ for the baddies and ‘cheers’ for the goodies, before spinning a giant wheel that gave everyone the chance to win some amazing prizes. The main prize was a trip to Lapland, thanks to Thomas Cook, and was won by local resident Aimee Butler, who will be whisked off to the North Pole on 15 December to meet Santa and his helpers at the enchanting Santa’s Village.
The cast were joined by the founder of Anna’s Hope, Queensgate’s charity of the year, Carole Hughes and four special children who helped press the plunger and illuminate Queensgate’s festive lights.
Mark Broadhead, Centre Director at Queensgate Shopping Centre said: “The atmosphere in the centre was fantastic and listening to the crowd sing in unison was quite something. To be able to raise awareness of Anna’s Hope to such a large crowd and to explain the amazing work they do was really important for us and for the charity, and I’m honoured they agreed to turn out lights on this year.”
Saturday also saw the arrival of Santa and the opening of his grotto in Central Square in Queensgate and the launch of the Gift Tree, supporting Spurgeon’s Children Charity.
The grotto opening times are:
Saturday November 18 - Sunday December 3:
Mon- Fri 11am- 5pm
Saturday 10am- 6pm
Sunday 10.30am- 4.30pm
From Monday December 4- Sunday December 24
Mon- Fri 10am-6pm
(Santa will be away from his grotto daily from 1pm-1.30pm to feed his reindeer, please note this time may vary slightly from day to day depending on queues)
Grotto entry is £5.99 per child, each child will receive Christmas present from Santa.