Families were entertained by Mayville School Choir, Southzone dance academy, Abstract Dance and Performing Arts and Streetforce as part of the celebrations.
Rosemary Sands brought her children to the event.
She said: ‘They are dancing in the show and it’s their fifth year doing street dance at the switch-on.
‘These are definitely the nicest of all the Christmas lights as it really signifies the start of Christmas.’
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Ken Ellcome joined ex-soap star Marcus Patrick to switch on the lights.
Cllr Ellcome said: ‘It has started the run-up to Christmas with everyone having a bit of a singsong.
‘It has gone very well and there’ve been a good bunch of people here.’
Marcus, originally from Gosport, is starring in the Kings Theatre panto Snow White.
Cllr Ellcome added: ‘It is the second year I have turned on the lights with Marcus, so we are old friends now.’
The Love Southsea market was in the precinct throughout the day selling Christmas gifts, with the chance for kids to visit Father Christmas.
Edna Shavelar came with her family to the event.
The 64-year-old said: ‘I like Christmas lights and I think Palmerston Road is a nice road when you see it all lit up.
Edna’s daughter Eloise added: ‘I come to Southsea high street all the time, so it’s nice everyone gets together to come down here for the Christmas lights.’
I myself am a big lover of Christmas and my little one will love the flashing lights and I love to have mulled wine at this time of year as well.’
Local Dudley Meredith came with friends.
He said: ‘I have come for the opening of the lights and the atmosphere of the event just seems to make everyone happy.
‘It is all for the children but that makes the adults happy as well.’
Dudley added: ‘It means everyone can start looking forward to Christmas.’