THOUSANDS of people turned out in Devizes yesterday evening to see a parade of magical lanterns and the switching on of the Christmas lights.

Many primary schools including Trinity, Southbroom Infants, St Josephs's and Dauntsey Academy Primary School took part in the procession led by Mayor Andy Geddes on a sleigh with Santa.

They were drawn by a steam engine along the parade route which took them down Sheep Street, Bridewell Street and Long Street into the Market Place where everyone eagerly gathered for the switch-on by Father Christmas from the top of a giant chimney.

Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts director Loz Samuels said:"It was a fantastic evening. The lanterns were some of the best we have seen."

Stilt walkers, professional musicians and giant lanterns in the shape of a animals and birds wowed the crowd but the smaller lanterns made by children brought home the essential Christmas message of old fashioned fun.

There were plenty of oohs and aahs as fireworks lit up the sky just after the lights went on and the Market Place became a twinkling wonderland.