Scenes from the start of Ilfracombe Christmas 2017 - with new festive lights to boot

Thousands packed the square for Ilfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony GussinThousands packed the square for Ilfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe celebrated the start of Christmas in style tonight (Friday) as thousands turned out for the annual Lighting of the Lights.

As ever, the ‘square’ by the war memorial was overflowing with people ready to enjoy the festivities.

A lantern lit parade of two or three hundred children and parents, together with stilt-walkers and costumed characters, made its way along the High Street to the square.

Compere Lee Baxendale kept the crowd in the festive spirit and introduced special guest Nicki French, who is playing the Wicked Witch in this year’s pantomime Beauty and the Beast at the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple, and Ilfracombe mayor Paul Crabb officially switched the lights on.

Ilfracombe Lighting of the Lights 2017. Picture: Tim LamertonIlfracombe Lighting of the Lights 2017. Picture: Tim Lamerton

Organisers Combe Christmas have pulled out all the stops this year and numerous volunteers have worked hard to give the town a festive special.

Charmain Lovett of the Combe Christmas Committee paid tribute to the many who had made it possible and thanked numerous people for their support, including committee chairman Steve Trebble and the electricians who gave up their time for free to install the new Christmas lights.

New lights at the square and in the High Street were made possible by fundraising, plus the town received a boost this year when it won £10,000 in lights at the Blachère Christmas Lights Competition earlier on in the year in Blackpool.

Tonight’s switch-on saw a Christmas blessing from Father John Roles and short speeches from town crier Roy Goodwin and the mayor, Paul Crabb, before Lee led the crowd in the countdown and Christmas in Ilfracombe officially started.

Panto star Nicki French chats to compere Lee Baxendale. Picture: Tony GussinPanto star Nicki French chats to compere Lee Baxendale. Picture: Tony Gussin

Then it was off to the High Street to meet Santa, more colourful characters and enjoy the variety of food and drink on offer.

The crowd waits fro Christmas 2017 to start in Ilfracombe. Picture: Tony GussinThe crowd waits fro Christmas 2017 to start in Ilfracombe. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony GussinIlfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony Gussin

Town crier Roy Goodwin calls Ilfracombe's Christmas to order. Picture: Tony GussinTown crier Roy Goodwin calls Ilfracombe's Christmas to order. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe Lighting of the Lights 2017. Picture: Tim LamertonIlfracombe Lighting of the Lights 2017. Picture: Tim Lamerton

Carol Turner and friend. Picture: Tony GussinCarol Turner and friend. Picture: Tony Gussin

Combe Christmas organiser Charmain Lovett thanks all those who made it possible. Picture: Tony GussinCombe Christmas organiser Charmain Lovett thanks all those who made it possible. Picture: Tony Gussin

A Christmas message from Ilfracombe mayor Paul Crabb. Picture: Tony GussinA Christmas message from Ilfracombe mayor Paul Crabb. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe Lighting of the Lights 2017. Picture: Tim LamertonIlfracombe Lighting of the Lights 2017. Picture: Tim Lamerton

Stilt walkers in the Christmas parade. Picture: Tony GussinStilt walkers in the Christmas parade. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony GussinIlfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony GussinIlfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony GussinIlfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony GussinIlfracombe Christmas Lights 2017. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ilfracombe Lighting of the Lights 2017. Picture: Tim LamertonIlfracombe Lighting of the Lights 2017. Picture: Tim Lamerton

Fun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd PhotographyFun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd Photography

Fun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd PhotographyFun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd Photography

Fun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd PhotographyFun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd Photography

Fun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd PhotographyFun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd Photography

Fun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd PhotographyFun at the Ilfracombe Christmas Market 2017. Picture: Wytchwynd Photography