HUNDREDS of people rush to see the Christmas lights switch on to officially kick off the festive period.

Christmas lights have been a major part of Christmas culture in Colchester for many years.

Now, having been given official city status, the pressure to create a city worthy festive display is at an all time high.

Williams and Griffin underwent a two and a half year £35 million revamp and reopened as Fenwick in September 2016.

Gazette: Honour - Violet Wilson, six, is with Colchester mayor Helen Chuah on the town hall balcony

The original department shop opened in 1963 and was sold to Fenwick in 2008.

Now the shop offers a large range of luxurious brands including Jo Malone, MAC, Michael Kors, Mulberry, Longchamp, Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren.

It is the largest department store in the region and has a beauty lounge offering treatments and a coffee at Caffe Nero or Carluccio’s Italian café.

Williams and Griffin was famous for its magical Christmas displays and would hold a special occasion which saw hundreds of people attend to see the window display unwrapped before their eyes.

Gazette: Fancy: unveiling of the Williams and Griffins Christmas window, Mother Goose with Holly Wells, 6, Abigail Birkett, 5, and Danielle Wells, 9

An added touch of artificial snow was blasted through the sky to mark the well-remembered occasion.

Generations of residents remember the landmark event, which wowed crowds every year without fail.

Children would help Santa to tear off paper which covered the shop windows to reveal the festive display hidden beneath.

Pictures show years of the tradition which encouraged members of the public to gather to witness the display of lights.

Gazette: Reveal- Father Christmas and Jet the elf arriving at Williams and Griffic to unwrap the Christmas window display

A Santa’s grotto with elves would follow on from the light switch on and would be booming with visitors.

Fenwick’s has continued the grotto tradition which is on every Saturday and Sunday of November and daily in December, except Monday’s.

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Children will be welcomed by elves into a snowy forest to meet Santa on the second floor, filled with festive surprises.

It has been revealed that this years Christmas display will be themed as author Lauren Child’s much loved Clarice Bean, Think Like An Elf book.

The display will bring the book to life in the shop window.