THE festive season officially began in Skipton on Sunday when the switch was thrown to illuminate the town in Christmas lights.

Thousands crowded into the high street people turned up to celebrate the annual switching on of the Christmas Lights to mark the start of Christmas in the town!

The Great Skipton Santa Fun Run set the festivities off as almost 2,000 runners dressed in Santa suits gathered on the high street to start and finish their annual 5k run around town, as organised by Skipton and Craven rotarians.

The Drystone Radio stage at the top of the high street was filled with performances from lots of local community groups – including spectacular performances from Skipton Academy, Northern Dance Centre, All Together Now choir, Skipton Brass and local musician Jimbo Lynch.

Crowds were dazzled by the headline act – a town centre Frozen sing-a-long where characters from the popular film put on a spectacular performance of singing and dancing from Frozen, The Greatest Showman and popular Christmas songs.

The lights were turned on by the Skipton mayor’s Christmas card competition winner, Olivia Mitton, from Brooklands School, The Mayor of Skipton Cllr Peter Madeley, Father Christmas and Mrs Claus and the Frozen characters.

Kerry Wheelwright, tourism and events manager for Skipton Town Council, said: “We were absolutely delighted with the event this year. The Skipton Christmas lights switch-on is a real community event. It is our chance to showcase our beautiful town and to share special moments together as a community. The whole day was amazing from start to finish and it was wonderful to unveil the new Christmas lights we have in Skipton for this year too.”

The new lights around the town centre include a fabulous new ceiling of light down Otley Street, an extended ceiling of light in Sheep Street, more lights down Coach Street, new lights for the Christmas tree and the introduction of lights in Victoria Square.

“We always get comments about how beautiful Skipton looks at Christmas and how lovely our Christmas lights are, and we wanted to ensure we can maintain and build on this,” said Ms Wheelwright.

“The whole town is delighted with the new lights across the town and it was lovely the local community came down to support the event and join in with the celebrations.”

A fun day was had by all at the event this year and Santa Claus and Mrs Claus made a special appearance on the High Street as they entered in their sleigh pulled by Shire horses, thanks to The Lister Arms, Malham, and Thwaites Brewery.

There was everything from a 50-stall festive market, funfair rides, face painting, children’s workshops, Frozen meet and greets, a nativity dress up selfie station, a snow globe, birds of prey and ‘snow’.

The event is organised by Skipton Town Council, in partnership with Skipton BID.