Christmas lights illuminating Oldham town centre marked the start of the festive period.

A dazzling array of fireworks teamed with the glistening lights concluded the entertainment on Saturday where thousands of residents made the trip out to Yorkshire Street, to cheer on the start of the season.

It was just gone 6pm when the production of The Wrong Reindeer, ran by Oldham Theatre Workshop, called for the lights to be switched on as spectators, including Jennifer Donnelly-Corbett and her family, counted them down.

The Oldham Times: Richard Lawson with daughter Josephine Donnelly-Lawson on his shoulder, Molly Donnelly (centre) and mum Jennifer Donnelly-Corbett Richard Lawson with daughter Josephine Donnelly-Lawson on his shoulder, Molly Donnelly (centre) and mum Jennifer Donnelly-Corbett (Image: Joe Yates, Newsquest)

The 38-year-old Royton mother-of-two said: “We come here every year pretty much, it’s the exception for doing anything Christmassy in November!

“We don’t do anything until December really, so we won’t put the tree up until then because it’s far too soon.

“Today, we came here at about 3pm, and missed the parade.”

She was joined by boyfriend 42-year-old Richard Lawson and daughters Molly Donnelly, aged 13, and four-year-old Josephine Donnelly-Lawson – who told The Oldham Times that she has been good this year and wants “Ghost-Spider”.

The Oldham Times: Christmas light switch-on and paradeChristmas light switch-on and parade (Image: Joe Yates, Newsquest)

Speaking before the illuminations, Molly added: “I’m excited for the switch-on and looking forward to the fireworks!”

Music was blaring from huge speakers positioned outside the Old Town Hall throughout the day, lifting the spirits of those parents who joined the 100-yard queue to meet Santa.

The weather held off for the most part, bar a 10-minute light downfall during the day and on the lead up to the switch on, as the entertainment kept coming.

The day kicked off with the Christmas parade which was led by Ollie and Mille the Oldham Owls and Rodney the Reindeer, as Santa trailed behind the procession.

John Tomlinson, of Shaw, came to the switch-on with his friends.

When asked whether he has put his tree up yet, he replied: “Not yet, we’ll wait until the first weekend of December to put ours up.”

The Oldham Times: John Tomlinson (second left) with his friendsJohn Tomlinson (second left) with his friends (Image: Joe Yates, Newsquest)

Speaking about the day, the 36-year-old added: “If it continued to pour down, I’d still be here 100 percent, of course! We need big events and cultural experiences like this.

“I’ve always come to the switch-on since I was little because my parents used to take me, but not this one – my wife is from here, so she would’ve been to this one growing up.

“We got here at 4.30pm and went for a drink and came back – when it's over we’re all going for a meal together.”

From 12.30pm every hour up until the switch-on, Santa and his elf held a meet and greet, while a singing Christmas tree and Musical Ruth – a man dressed as a nun while playing a piano on wheels, patrolled the streets.

Five-year-old Ellis Spencer came to the town to see the parade and had hopes of meeting Santa and knew exactly what he wanted for Christmas having been good all year.

The Oldham Times: From left: Jack Ogden, Misha Dhanjal and Ellis SpencerFrom left: Jack Ogden, Misha Dhanjal and Ellis Spencer (Image: Joe Yates, Newsquest)

He added: “A teddy bear, a really big shark teddy bear!”

While the switch-on has finished, residents can look forward to the free Brass Monkey Festival taking place on Saturday, December 9 from 11am till 3pm, where local and national brass bands will descend on Oldham town centre.

The Heritage, Libraries and Arts Service is also hosting an array of events, including showings The Wrong Reindeer, a 20th anniversary screening of Elf, and hosting a Christmas Books and Bobs Fair.

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