HUGE crowds gathered to welcome the festive season as the Christmas lights were officially switched on in Lydney and Coleford.

The Lydney switch on took place on Friday evening (December 1) and started  with a parade from Hams Road to Lydney Town Hall.

The colourful parade was led by the Harmony Twirlstars marching band and featured many local groups.

The lights were switched on by Santa outside Lydney Town Hall.

He then returned to his ice dome grotto where he met lots of local children who each received a gift.

The event, which was organised by Lydney Town Council, featured craft stalls inside and outside the town hall.

There was also musical entertainment from X Factor contestant Russell Jones, Lydney Training Band and the Glee Club of Lydney Church of England Primary School.

Music also featured prominently at the Coleford celebrations on Saturday.

Videos of local schoolchildren singing festive songs were played at the clock tower stage in the town centre.

The Coleford Community Choir, Coalway Junior School Choir and the Elite Singing Group from Five Acres High School all performed live.

There was a lantern parade featuring local children which started at Coleford Fire Station.

It was led by Santa aboard Billy, the fire station’s Christmas float and the Gloster Gladiators Scout Band.

Before the lights were switched on town mayor Cllr Nick Penny paid tribute to the volunteers of the Coleford Christmas lights committee.

He said: “This all done by volunteers. 

“It’s not led  by the council, we give some funding but it’s the amazing team of volunteers who come out, whatever the weather week in, week out to put this display on.  

“Once again they have absolutely excelled themselves.”

The lights were switched on by Andy Childs from the Tram Stop fish and chip shop.

Andy was one of those honoured in the Pride of Coleford awards.

He generously ensures that volunteers working on events in the town are fed.