Thousands of excited spectators gathered at Fishergate in Preston to celebrate the start of the festive season.
Heavy rains and weather warnings from Lancashire Police did not deter crowds from the brightly-lit stage outside the Fishergate Shopping Centre at 5.30pm, where pop and R&B music star Alesha Dixon was set to flick the switch on Preston’s popular Christmas lights.
Joining the ex-Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent judge were 13 other acts including 13-year-old singer Lily Goulding, Tom Jarvis, and members of the performing group ‘Starkidz’, whose passionate rendition of Let It Go from the hit Disney film Frozen had youngsters in the audience belting along.
But it was16-year-old singer and songwriter Bailey McConnell who captured the heart of almost every teenage girl in the crowd.
Bailey soared to UK fame when he starred in Britain’s Got Talent in 2014 when he was just 14.
His performance followed 90s rock band Toploader’s famous cover of Dancing in the Moonlight, which saw some brave spectators put aside their umbrellas and get into the dancing spirit.
The switch-on took place at around 7.45pm after Alesha Dixon performed her A-list single Let’s Get Excited and her 2003 hit Scandalous, which she originally performed alongside girl band Mis-Teeq. Crowds were invited to sing along to the festive favourite All I Want for Christmas is You under the lights.
While Storm Abigail was named ‘guest of honour’ by event host Jordan North from Rock FM, audiences maintained that the event was anything but a wash-out.
Sasha Marshall, 19, from Preston, said: “Despite the weather it’s been so worth it to come here. The artists were all great – I couldn’t believe Lily Goulding was just 13! My favourite act was Frozen because it’s such a popular film and everybody loved singing along.”
Her friend Ryan Buchanan, 20, said: “The weather didn’t really bother me because it’s England and rain is to be expected. It was an excellent event and lots of people know about it and come out to see it. I wasn’t going to let a bit of rain put me off!”