FOR many families the run-up to Christmas truly began at the weekend.
To see our picture galleries from both Gosport and Fareham displays click on the link at the top of the article.
On Saturday, it was Gosport’s turn – where even pouring rain could not keep people from uniting in Lawrence Square to see the town lit up for 2018.
Shoppers enjoyed live entertainment from 3pm before New Theatre Royal panto star Hannah McIver, who is starring as Wendy Darling in Peter Pan, turned the lights on with the mayor of Gosport, Councillor Diane Furling.
A shower of fake snow and a low-noise firework display followed – putting smiles on the faces of scores of people in the crowd.
Becky Jalban took her daughter Evangeline, six and son Jacob, 11 to the event.
She said: ‘We’re really loving it, we come every single year.
‘This time there’s entertainment after the fireworks which is nice.
‘Evangeline doesn’t like fireworks that are loud so it’s really good they’ve got a silent display.’
The leader of Gosport Borough Council, Councillor Mark Hook, took his two young grandchildren to the switch-on and said he thought the set-up was fantastic, praising all the families who made it a success by going along in the rain.
A day later it was Fareham’s turn, and West Street was packed to the rafters as the lights were switched on by actors in Victorian costume.
Resident Diane Kimberley, 45, went along with her daughters Izzy, 14 and Megan, 11, and her husband Pete and her mother Mary.
‘This makes you stop for a second and feel like Christmas has started, it gets you in the mood for it all,’ she said.
‘The lights this year are beautiful – they look really pretty.’
At the other end of the high street , independent businesses from the West Street Fareham Community Forum put up their own lights and ran a selection of stalls.
Crafty Makery owner and forum member Shane Davies said traders’ efforts were successful with youngsters – not least the hundreds who flocked to his store to hand-make lanterns for Sunday’s festivities.
He said: ‘This is about putting our community back together and working together.’
He added the display could be even bigger next year, as traders continue talks with Fareham Borough Council to see the whole of West Street included in community events like Sunday night’s event.