Alton's Christmas lights were switched on by the town's very own MasterChef 2023 winner Chariya Khattiyot on Friday evening.

Chariya, better known as 'Cherry', was accompanied by the cast of Pumpkin Pantos' Christmas production, Beauty and the Beast, for the magic moment at 5pm – adding a touch of theatrical magic to the celebration.

The Assembly Rooms served as the central hub for the festivities, creating a lively atmosphere and attracting a large crowd inside and out.

Alton's Christmas fair kicked off at 3pm and lasted until 7pm, providing ample time for families to enjoy a range of activities either side of the big switch-on.

Younger children had the opportunity to visit Father Christmas and his elf in a festive grotto, where they received free gifts. A magical letterbox allowed them to send their Christmas wish lists directly to the North Pole, with diligent elves ensuring the messages reached Santa.

A giant Christmas tree and illuminated sleigh and reindeer on the Assembly Rooms' lawn offered festive family photo opportunities.

While funfair rides from John Searle Family Funfairs added an extra element of excitement for the younger attendees.

The town was filled with Christmas cheer, thanks to the High Street lamp posts adorned with locally-designed Christmas lights including lamp post motifs along High Street and icicle lighting in Market Square, Curtis Museum, Inwood Court, and the Assembly Rooms.

Live performances by Tilly Lukeman, Pumpkin Pantos, Alton Rock Choir, and the Kings Pond Shanty Men entertained visitors throughout the afternoon and evening. And inside the Assembly Rooms, the Luminosa children's choir captivated the audience with their melodious tunes.

The Swan featured the Alton Concert Band and Cactus Brass, contributing to the festive musical repertoire.

The event's success was made possible through the generosity of sponsors Rod Gaskins Ltd, P J Grace and Sons, HSDC Alton College, and bronze Christmas sponsor Alton School.