FESTIVE spirit was in the air as the Christmas lights were turned on at the big Leigh Park switch-on at the Greywell Shopping Centre.
A parade of lanterns, elves and Santa Claus led about 70 people through the precinct to two big switch-ons by Tesco Metro and by Leigh Park Library.
The build-up to the switch-ons saw Christmas carols such as Silent Night sung by the Bethel Evangelical Church choir with a Santa’s Grotto also open for children to soak up the Christmas spirit.
The grotto, based in an empty unit in the centre, is a colourful display featuring Father Christmas himself, polar bears, elves, reindeer and snowmen.
Cassie Tate, from Leigh Park brought daughter Holly, seven, to the event.
She said: ‘We wanted to come down and get into the Christmas spirit.
‘There’s not much around here when it comes to Christmas events like this so we really wanted to come down tonight and make the most of it.
‘It is nice to see so many of the local community coming down to support it.’
Holly added: ‘I’m a big fan of Christmas so I wanted to see the lights because it feels like it is not too far away now.’
Claire Graham, also of Leigh Park, brought along her children, Connor, nine, and Luke, six, to the event for the first time.
She said: ‘It’s such a lovely time of year and events like this are great for children as Christmas is always something kids will look forward to, so it makes nights like this worth it.
‘I think the lights look great and it’s good that everybody’s here to see them switched on.’
Julie Clark, from the Southern Co-operative, which donated a tree towards the grotto said: ‘The grotto and the lights are looking absolutely beautiful.
‘It is great to be in this time of year again as it all looks amazing and I hope families can really enjoy them.’
She brought along her grandson, Travis Fay, five, to the event.
Travis said: ‘It’s been great. It makes me really want Christmas to come sooner.’
Havant’s mayor, Councillor Faith Ponsonby said: ‘Events like this are the perfect ways for families to get into the Christmas spirit and have a good time. A lot of work goes into making this happen.’