Picture slideshow: Southsea’s Christmas lights are switched on

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FATHER Christmas brought some festive cheer to the heart of Southsea.

Although it is not yet even the midway point in November, hundreds of people gathered in Palmerston Road for the annual Christmas lights switch-on.

Father Christmas, Warren Hayden, centre, and Christopher Marlowe switch on the lights in Palmerston Road, Southsea ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151730-095)

Father Christmas, Warren Hayden, centre, and Christopher Marlowe switch on the lights in Palmerston Road, Southsea ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151730-095)

Actor Christopher Marlowe, who is starring in Cinderella at the Kings Theatre this year, was also there to flick the switch and brighten up the street.

He is playing Cinderella’s father in the pantomime. He said: ‘I’m from Portsmouth – they asked me if I would like to do this and I said yes, of course.

‘It’s great because it’s bringing a lot of people together. They are all getting involved.

‘It’s a wonderful feeling for everyone. It’s the start of the festive season. It’s lovely.’

Jess Ormerod, left, and Tilly-May Murray ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151730-128)

Jess Ormerod, left, and Tilly-May Murray ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151730-128)

A market saw stalls lining Palmerston Road giving people the opportunity to buy gifts and food and an hour after the lights went on, everyone stopped to watch a spectacular fireworks display.

Becci Coghlan is one of the event organisers.

She said: ‘It feels like a community event with lots of local stalls getting involved.

‘There were children singing on stage so their families came to see them.

‘It’s the ninth year we have done it and it’s got more of a community spirit.’

Choirs from Mayville High School and Portsmouth High School performed as well as the brass band from Portsmouth Grammar School.

There were also groups of dancers taking to the stage.

Abigail Hobden, 40, brought along her two sons Joe, seven, and Rocco, four, who are both pupils at Mayville High School.

She said: ‘We wanted to support the school.

‘It’s the kick-off to Christmas.

‘They enjoyed it. We haven’t been for a few years but it seemed really busy and popular.’

Victoria Storey, 31, was with her seven-year-old daughter Blossom.

She said: ‘I like it down here. It’s better than anywhere else. We love it. It’s the start of Christmas.’