MORE than 20,000 people turned out to watch the annual Southend Christmas lights switch-on in the town centre.
Southend mayor David Norman, Santa and Widow Twankey from this year’s Cliffs Pavilion Christmas pantomime Aladdin had the honour of turning on the lights on Saturday afternoon.
Christmas carols played out in the background as the crowds gathered on the High Street and seafront to mark the beginning of Southend’s festive season.
The event was put together by Southend’s town centre partnership and Dawn Jeakings, who is the manager of the Royals shopping centre and chairman of the partnership.
Mrs Jeakings said: “This has been the best event by far that we have ever held. Every year it gets better and better.
“The people of Southend know this is a really worthwhile family day out, and it’s great fun for everyone. We have built it up over the past 20 years.
“I have never seen so many people here. I think we had more than 20,000 turn out to the whole day. It has been wonderful.”
A huge fireworks spectacular also kept the crowds entertained at the annual event.