THE festive season got off to a glittering start in Royal Wootton Bassett when crowds packed the high street to see the Christmas lights switched on.

Nine-year-old Lola Woolford from Noremarsh Junior School did the honours after winning mayor Steve Bucknell’s Christmas card design competition.

About to set off on a wander with wife Alison through the stalls and attractions stretching up the high street, he said: “I was wondering how many people were going to turn up, especially because it is cold.

“ But it is packed, which is brilliant.”

He said organising the event started at Easter and it was a major task.

“All the market stalls down the centre of the high street had been taken up by businesses and groups and the entertainment on stage had involved 150 people.

Among the acts were singers from Wootton Bassett Light Operatic Society who performed a teaser for their pantomime Pinocchio, due to be performed in January.

Others included Jacob Vincent, Bradley Cowtan and the voices of Cantanti.

Mum of three Sarah Lane had brought her brood in from West Swindon for the event.

“It’s such a lovely atmosphere,” she said. “The kids love the fairground rides and the fire engine. We came last year for the first time and they enjoyed it so much I thought I’d bring them back.”

Tiny tot George Bennett was so overwhelmed by the sight of Father Christmas in his grotto he was too shy to join the queue of excited youngsters waiting for an audience with the jolly soul in the red suit.

But dad Mark, who lives near Lyneham, said the two-year-old was having a great time all the same.

“He’s taking it all in. He can’t stop talking about the fire engine," he said.

“It’s the first time we’ve been and I think it’s a really nice family event.”