Christmas lights switched on in towns across the region

Scenes from Fakenham Christmas Lights switch on 2015 - The lights in the town centre. Picture: Matth

Scenes from Fakenham Christmas Lights switch on 2015 - The lights in the town centre. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The festive season began in style for thousands of people when Christmas lights were switched on in towns across the region.

In Dereham, there was a defiant spirit when crowds turned out in force, despite attempts to sabotage the event.

Bulbs were removed from the Christmas lights on both Thursday and Friday night, but the switch-on went ahead as planned on Sunday.

Roger Atterwill, chairman of Dereham Business Forum, who put the lights up, said: 'Everyone shared the view that we can't let them win.'

Watton's Christmas switch-on was hailed a big success.

Beryl Bunning, vice chairman of Watton Town Council, said: 'The Christmas lights are always very well supported by the people of Watton and we've had a great turnout again this year.'

Thousands packed North Walsham Market Place to see the town lit up.

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After a lantern parade, North Walsham sports star Lauren Hemp, who has played football for England's U15s team, flicked the switch, which was followed by a flurry of artificial snow and carols around the Market Cross led by Salvation Army musicians.

Diss was packed on Saturday when Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime actor Ben Langley turned of the lights with the support of Father Christmas, who arrived on a fire engine sleigh, the Dinsdsale the Duck mascot and Diss mayor Julian Mason.

Harleston was full of festive cheer when a fundraising pensioner turned on the town's festive illuminations.

Marion Courtney, 90 and who had her head shaved in support of Syria refugees in September, switched on the lights, revealed she had raised £2,800 and thanked people for the 'wonderful way' they supported her.

Celebratory cheers and festive songs echoed out around Southwold. The popular annual tradition was held on a Saturday evening for the first time in years.

Sue Allen, chairman of the Christmas lights committee, said: 'We are really pleased with the turn out. We feel that changing the time of the switch-on has really worked.'

Fakenham's Christmas lights switch-on went ahead a week later than planned after the event was called off the week before due to safety fears, prompted by strong winds.

Adrian Vertigan, chairman of organisers Kick Start Fakenham, said: 'Turnout has been a bit down on previous years, but there have been a lot of happy people here and the traders have done well.'

Disney film Frozen was the theme of the annual Hunstanton Christmas Cracker which once again held a day of family fun with live music, games and activities.

Committee Treasurer Geoffrey Smith said: 'We have certainly had to battle with the elements today.

'It did mean that we couldn't hold some of the activities planned, but it is lovely to see people still enjoying the event.'

Meanwhile, a Minion stole the show when it came to switching on Downham Market's Christmas lights.

Earlier in the day, around 50 Santas took part in the annual fun run sponsored by estate agent Morris Armitage.