CHESTER has been turned into a winter wonderland after hundreds packed the city centre last night to watch the annual Christmas lights switch-on.
The festive season arrived in style, with real reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh into the heart of the city prior to the official lights switch-on and fireworks display.
The Town Hall Square was brought to life as local acts strutted their stuff before hundreds of revellers in a two-hour show presented by The Forum manager Lawrence Allen.
And one youngster who won't forget yesterday in a hurry is seven-year-old Clarissa Ashman of Boughton, Chester, who won the chance to sit alongside Santa throughout his parade, help him settle in his grotto in The Forum and assist Lord Mayor Terry Ralph in switching on the lights .
Yesterday's event marked the start of a unique Christmas shopping campaign which sees Chester City Centre Management and Chester City Council teaming up with businesses in the city.
The Shop Around The Clock campaign will offer bargains and boost the local economy while creating a festive buzz in the city.
The campaign urges people to do their Christmas shopping, eating out and socialising in Chester, and offers late-night shopping on Thursdays, with many extra late nights being added from the start of December, peaking in Christmas week.
Chester residents and visitors who have signed up to the Charisma Card loyalty scheme will be able to gain up to 20% discounts in some outlets.
The city council is providing free Park & Ride from 5-8pm.
The Lord Mayor hit the big switch at 6.30pm at the end of the switch-on celebrations in Town Hall Square.
Cllr Ralph said: 'We had a fantastic line-up of truly local talent which reflected the music over a wide spectrum, with live performances and entertainment for the whole family.'
This included members of Castaway Youth Theatre performing songs from West Side Story, the group Mustangs, actors from the Gateway Christmas show 101 Dalmatians and the Chester Comets and Jets.
There was even Chester's own X Factor featuring five young hopefuls. They were featured on Dee 106.3 in the run-up to the event.