TWINKLING fairy lights and towering fir trees are now illuminating town centres across Oxfordshire after a series of switch-ons.

Thousands of people wrapped up warm at the weekend to see Christmas lights turned on in Witney, Thame and Carterton on Friday, Abingdon and Bicester on Saturday, and Wallingford on Sunday.

Abingdon Extravaganza, organised by Abingdon Chamber of Commerce, saw hordes of people crowd into Market Place on Saturday night to see fairy lights and fireworks illuminate the town.

Last year saw the town’s lights switched on by 90s pop group The Honeyz and, in 2016, by former members of the 90s band S Club 7, but this year the privilege was given back to the community.

Youngsters had been invited to go on a hunt around the town’s shops and cafes for a trail of hidden elves, and the person who found the most - Amelie Arends - won the prize of pushing the all-important button on the night.

There was then a firework display sponsored by Mays Properties, which saw bursts of sparkling colour shower down on the Guildhall and County Hall.

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Earlier in the day, there was a parade through the town centre and performances by groups including Oxford’s Strawberry Fayre Majorettes, Oxford Caledonian Pipes and Drums Band, Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers and Abingdon Community Choir.

As is tradition, Abingdon Lions Club provided a Santa sleigh - complete with Father Christmas and his elves - and collected donations for the group’s causes.

Posting on Facebook, the club said people were ‘very generous’ with their money and added that the cash raised will fund the defibrillator for Abbey Meadows park.

Also writing on social media, organisers from the Chamber of Commerce said: “A big thank you to everyone who came out to support Abingdon - despite the weather, it was a really good day.”

It has already announced next year’s Abingdon Extravaganza date as Saturday, November 30.

At exactly the same time as Abingdon’s lights were switched on, Bicester also lit up as families packed into Market Square.

This year Bicester Town Council decided to move the event to a Saturday rather than a weekday, to ensure more people could attend.

The town enjoyed a day-long programme of events including live music performances, a Christmas market and a lantern parade.

Bicester mayor Sean Gaul judged his three favourite lanterns and the winners helped him to switch on the lights, and get a prize donated by Bicester Heritage.

Residents in Wallingford also enjoyed music, entertainment and stalls at the Wallingford Christmas Shopping Sunday.

Attendees were encouraged to support town traders with their gift shopping, with many dressed in Father Christmas suits after taking part in the town's annual Santa Dash on the same day.

Festivities reached crescendo with a firework spectacle sponsored by Wallingford 1155, which was staged by award-winning display operator Illusion Fireworks.