More than 18,000 watched the city centre burst into colour as the Christmas lights were switched on.

A range of entertainment was held in St Albans City Centre on Sunday afternoon to mark the official start of the Christmas shopping season.

Thousands of people wandered around the various Christmas Market stalls filled with festive food and decorations at Vintry Garden and the lights were switched on in St Peter’s Street after being installed by St Albans BID.

There were also performances from The Big Sing Choir, The Purple Allstars and Mamas With Voices on the Taxi Rank Stage.

Councillor Beric Read, who represents Business and the Community for the council, said: “I am delighted with the turn-out at the Christmas Lights Switch-on which was up again on last year. It attracted an estimated 18,000 people.

“It has clearly been a success to open the market on the same weekend as the lights switch-on. It gets Christmas in St Albans off to a very exciting start.

“The Christmas Market also had a bumper day with more than 15,000 visits – that’s up by 56 per cent on the equivalent Sunday of last year. The two events get Christmas in St Albans off to a very exciting start.”

Cllr Read added the Christmas Market is predicted to boost local businesses in the area.

He said: “The atmosphere in the City Centre was terrific with visitors having so many different attractions to choose from. There was something for families and people of all ages.

“Besides the great shopping opportunities at the gift stalls and the many food and drink outlets, there was live entertainment, including music and dancing, face painting and fairground rides.

“I am sure the lights and the Christmas Market will attract many more visitors to the City Centre over the festive season which is great news for our local businesses and the economy.”