CROWDS of families braved the weather as the festive period got off to a dazzling start with the annual big Christmas lights switch on.

Taking to the stage at The Rock for a packed evening of stellar entertainment were special guests children's TV star Sid Sloane and pop superstar Max George.

There were also performances from rising singing star Emilia and groups from the Carol Godby Theatre Workshop, as well as fun from event co-hosts, Hits Radio.

And arriving just in time for the hugely anticipated count down, Bury was treated to an extra special visit from Father Christmas himself who joined the other guests to push the button and kick start the borough's Christmas.

This year features new decorations for the event's first Starry Night theme which will illuminate the town in a stunning display of light.

The Christmas season was also made for a series of lucky winners who scooped top prizes, including s £500 shopping spree and tickets to pop music extravaganza Hits Radio Live, thanks to event co-hosts, Hits Radio.

The switch on marks the start of a host festive fun at The Rock in the run up to the big day.

Santa's Grotto will officially open on November 23 with a spectacular Santa's Arrival parade in the morning.

The Rock Express festival transport will then return to ferry shoppers around the two throughout December.

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