Families enjoyed an evening of festive fun with a Thomas the Tank Engine funfair ride, a German sausage stall, and live performances of music and carol singing.
The lights were switched on by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth – Councillor David Fuller – as well as Pompey football players Brandon Haunstrup and Alex Bass, and members of the King’s Theatre panto Aladdin.
Due to the setup of the lighting equipment, a team of two electricians had to turn on manually seven of the 16 Christmas lights attached to lampposts down the high street.
Drayton resident Leanne Jarvis, who came to the event with her husband Chris and their 11-month old daughter, said: ‘I think the lights look really nice. It’s a nice festive touch, they are nice and traditional, and it's been a good turn out.’
Mason Olden, 15, spending the evening with his mum Kerry, 33, and sister, Elcie, 5, agreed: ‘I like the lights – I’m looking forward to Christmas now.’
A firework display had been planned, but Portsmouth City Council announced on Wednesday that ‘urgent repair work’ taking place on the roof of the Tesco Metro on the High Street meant it had to be cancelled.
But residents remained impressed with the evening’s entertainment, with the crowd joining in with carols sung by the Spinnaker Chorus barbershop choir.
Commenting on the firework display, Cosham resident Kerry Olden said: ‘They don’t make a difference.
‘We’re still here – and we’d come next year if we were told there wouldn’t be any fireworks.’
Councillor David Fuller said: ‘Obviously were people a bit disappointed and I understand that.
‘But at the end of the day you have to think about people’s safety.
‘I’m sure if Tesco could have avoided the issue, they would have.
‘And a lot of people have been complaining about fireworks – some people will be glad there haven’t been any fireworks.
‘The Christmas tree up here in Cosham looks really, really good.’