THOUSANDS of festive shoppers flocked to Colchester town centre to see the streets illuminated by the sparkle of Christmas lights.

The switch-on event saw this year’s pantomime stars team up with Father Christmas and town mayor Nick Cope to light up the town.

Before the countdown, shoppers were wowed by performances from dance troupes, street acts and singers across the High Street, Culver Square and Eld Lane.

Visitors were treated to a special skit by the Ugly Sisters Dale Superville and Antony Stuart-Hicks - stars of the Mercury Theatre’s Cinderella pantomime.

Special guests Elsa and Anna, from Disney’s Frozen, were in Culver Square meeting shoppers before they filled the square with snow at 5pm.

Sam Good, business improvement district manager, said: “There was such a fantastic atmosphere throughout the town all day, culminating in the excitement of Colchester’s Christmas lights being switched on and Santa’s arrival.

“It’s been a long time in the planning but all the hard work was well worth it to see so much festive cheer on the streets of Colchester.

“There are festive performances happening every Saturday across town in the lead up to Christmas too, so be sure to come into town and enjoy them whilst you shop, eat, drink and feel festive.”