MORE than 2,000 people headed to Marlborough High Street on Friday to find that it had been transformed into a winter wonderland for the town’s annual Christmas lights switch-on.

Santa himself got the excitement started at the town hall as he appeared in his grotto, alongside his helpful elves, from 3pm, which attracted hundreds of children.

From 5pm, the masses enjoyed live music, fairground rides and a wide variety of festive stalls too.

Once again the Marlborough Lions provided Santa with his sleigh and he and Mayor Mervyn Hall paraded around the town before flicking the switch with citizen of the year Alec Light, who got the award for his charity work, and BBC Breakfast presenter Ben Prater and two of his children.

“It was one of the best switch-ons I have been involved with. There was a wonderful atmosphere, the place was really busy and thankfully we did not get rained on like last year,” said Cllr Hall.

“It was quite something riding along with Santa in his sleigh and meeting lots of smiling people.

“My grandchildren really enjoyed me riding around with Santa and then seeing me switch the lights on, that was a real honour.

“The quality of performances from the choirs, both young and old, was very impressive.

“We held the event in December this time to make it feel more Christmassy and I think it paid off.”

Marlborough Rotary Club put in a big shift to help the event run smoothy, as more than a dozen of its members acted as stewards and helpers on the night.

Club member Geoff Oades said: “It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and the numbers were up from last year which is good.

“We had our helpers doing a cafe in the town hall, directing traffic and assisting people in other ways. Hopefully we can raise a good amount for Julia’s House too.”

Marlborough Lions secretary Karen Collie added: “It was a great way to kick off the festive season for us all.”