Thousands enjoy sparkling and spectacular switch-on in Leicester
One minute it was a cold, crowded Town Hall Square packed with expectant adults and children.
The next, it was sparkling winter wonderland, with dazzling lights, falling snow and smiling faces.
Thousands of people were at Town Hall Square yesterday afternoon for Leicester's official Christmas light switch-on.
The massive crowd, with scores of children on the shoulders of parents, joined in the 10-second countdown as the switch was thrown.
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Adults cheered and children squealed as lights as an array of snow machines showered the scene in fake snow as the lights lit up the Clock Tower, the town hall and the Paddington Bear and Noddy tableaux.
A traditional nativity scene and a towering Christmas tree covered in tinsel, baubles and shimmering lights completed the magical picture.
Charlotte Foster, 21, of Wigston, went to the lights switch-on with her partner and baby.
She said: "It is really beautiful. Our daughter, Amelia, is only four months old, but she loves bright lights so we thought it would be great for her."
Vivienne Swatman, from Aylestone, was there with her three sons and two grandchildren. The 47-year-old said: "It is the first time I have been to the lights switch-on and I can't get over how many people are here. I think it is great.
"Everyone is in such a good mood, it's lovely."
Daniel Routledge, from Knighton, enjoyed the event, which included live music, street performers and dancers.
The 37-year-old said: "It was excellent. The council needs to be congratulated for putting on a show like that."
His six-year-old son, Mookie, said: "It was awesome. I liked the snow the best."
Nine-year-old daughter Aisling said: "I liked the dancers but I also think the snow was the best bit."
Lord Mayor of Leicester Councillor Abdul Osman, who flipped the switch, said: "This is a fantastic occasion for the city of Leicester."
Visitors to the city centre were also able to enjoy the attractions of a large winter food and craft market.
More than 200 stalls selling an array of food, drink and gifts were doing a roaring trade at Leicester Market.
Stall-holder Debbie Campbell, who was selling home-made cakes with the help of her 13-year-old son Gareth, was busy.
The 49-year-old, from Anstey, said: "We have done pretty well today.
"This festive market is a great idea and gets people into this end of town on a Sunday."
Husband and wife, Jason and Katherine Wale, had stumbled upon the market while waiting for the lights switch-on.
Katherine, 36, said: "We've got the two children with us and it was fun to wander round looking at all the lovely things on offer."
Jason, 29, said: "There is a lot of interesting work on sale."