UPDATED: Thousands turn out for Preston Christmas lights switch on

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The people of Preston turned out in their thousands for this year’s Christmas lights switch on.

The Flag Market in the city was packed with families, friends and colleagues to see the switch flicked on Saturday night.

The Christmas Light Switch in Preston

The Christmas Light Switch in Preston

The crowd stretched along Friargate with organisers, Preston’s Business Improvement District (BID), estimating 14,500 people were there at the peak of the night.

The line-up included Coronation Street star Marc Baylis – who played bad boy Rob Donovan.

Marc, who had also switched on the lights in Chorley earlier in the evening, was a huge hit with the crowds.

He said: “It’s been awesome, I’ve had a great night. It’s been a great laugh.”

Other acts included 80s favourites The Christians and soul-star Jaki Graham and Bob Blakeley, who appeared on television series The Voice.

X Factor finalist Jack Walton also proved hugely popular with the audience.

Jack, who left the show after ending up in the bottom two, said: “That was amazing - it is the biggest gig I have done since leaving the show. I loved it, the reaction was amazing.”

The switch on event was hosted by Smooth Radio with presenters Jo Lloyd and Carlos compering the evening.

Jo said: “What a great atmosphere, I don’t think Preston ever lets you down - the crowd, the vibe, the passion.

“Prestonians are incredibly passionate, warm and friendly.

“I did panto here, I am very familiar with the city. I have hosted the Christmas lights switch on a few times, it’s like a second home to me.

“I think everyone has enjoyed themselves. The acts have been great. I have loved it.”

Among the acts taking to the stage were a number of local performers including singer Daniella Graham, dancer Ethan, singer Ronnie and performing arts students from Preston College.

Father Christmas made an appearance as did the Mayor of Preston Coun Nick Pomfret, who told the crowd the night was an example of ‘Proud Preston’.

The cast of this year’s panto Snow White and the Magnificent Seven had been billed to appear but a change in schedule meant they didn’t make it.

Mark Whittle, of Preston BID said the line-up this year had something for everyone.

He said: “I am pleased because you never know which acts will attract which demographic.

“We’ve had the lot this year, there’s been something for everyone.

“Every year since we started doing this we put our faith in the people of Preston to support and once again they have exceeded our expectations. I am very happy.”

Over in Chorley the crowds enjoyed a night of festive fun, as well as Marc Baylis, the line-up included Chorley boxer, Jack Catterall, who is WBO European light-welter weight champion.

There was a Christmas market and performances by Britain’s Got Talent’s Jai McDowall and Bailey McConnell, and X-Factor’s Janet Devlin and Harry Mondryk.

Other acts include former Take Me Out contestant and singer, Gavin Ellis, singer Chris Atkinson, girl groups Tiger Heart and Electrovamp, boy band Exposure and a pantomime performance from Buckshaw Vamp.