DOZENS of lanterns were paraded through the streets of Bicester for this year’s Christmas light Switch On event.

The lantern parade, staged by arts charity OYAP Trust, was part of the annual festive event which plunges the town into its Christmas countdown.

Hundreds of lights lit up the town’s Christmas tree and town centre along Sheep Street and Market Square.

There was also a live samba band performance and nativity animals to entertain the crowds.

Father Christmas took a moment out of his busy schedule to join in the festivities, which took place last Thursday.

Laura Dobson, of OYAP Trust, said: “Children and families from across Bicester came together to light up the streets with their willow lanterns, inspired by the idea of 'journeys'.

“About 70 lanterns were created for the parade during a series of school and community workshops which were run by OYAP Trust, in partnership with Oxfordshire Museums Service.”

Bicester town mayor, Les Sibley, did the honours of turning on the Christmas lights alongside the winners of the Christmas snowflake treasure hunt staged in the town over recent weeks.

The lanterns will now be exhibited at The Studio in Crown Walk, Bicester, until Monday.

Bicester received an early Christmas present for the occasion from Bicester Village and K2 Recruitment, who sponsored the two town centre trees.

Cherwell District Council’s street cleansing team also supported the switch-on, with five workers cleaning up after the ceremony.

Cherwell District Council lead member for clean and green, Debbie Pickford, said: "As the festive period approaches we want Bicester’s town centre looking its very best to welcome local shoppers and visitors from further afield.

"This support from Bicester Village and K2 Recruitment will help us do just that, acknowledging how important it is to retain links between the town centre and Bicester Village.

"It was really heartening to see so many people gather to welcome the start of Advent at the Christmas lights switch-on and I hope residents and visitors enjoy the wonderful displays throughout the festive season."