RESIDENTS have heralded the start of the festive season in Thirsk by turning out in their thousands for a three-day Christmas fair.

Event organiser Jill Miller said the festival had served as an excellent showcase for the town’s independent retailers as well as raising the remaining £3,000 needed to fund Thirsk’s Christmas lights.

About 1,500 people attended a ceremony in the Market Place at 6pm on Friday, which included the arrival of Father Christmas in a classic car, alongside music and entertainment by MB Audio Visual and Adi Calvert, and pupils from Pickhill and Sowerby primary schools switching on the lights display.

Mrs Miller said: “The lights by Stephen Dresser were spectacular and the atmosphere was fantastic. It was a great way to start the Christmas season.

“It would have been nice to have more shops staying open for the late-night shopping, but I understand it is difficult for the smaller ones to pay the extra wages.”

Other attractions at the event included food and crafts fairs in the town hall and Golden Fleece hotel, which were fully booked by retailers.

Little Quackers children’s clothing shop, in Millgate, won the Thirsk and District Business Association best dressed window competition with an innovative display featuring an upside down umbrella.