THE festive season has been heralded into Oxford this weekend with the annual Christmas Light Festival.

The giant party has been taking over the city centre since Friday night themed around 'discovery' to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landings.

Organisers and participants struck lucky, as the rain held off for a lantern parade on Friday evening, with school children and community groups taking part in the march, which started at the covered market.

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A drummer from ensemble Spark! Picture: Jeff Slade.

At the same time, the city's Christmas light and sound installations were switched on.

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Lanterns for the parade were made with the help of Fusion Arts, in a series of workshops.

Organisers estimated that more than 425 lanterns were made for the parade this year.

There are no official estimates yet to the number of people who took part in the weekend's activities, but last year 40,000 people flooded the city centre to grab the best viewing spots.

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The view of festivities from Carfax Tower. Picture: Jeff Slade.

A festive market on Broad Street featured live music, performances and free activities for revellers.

Other hubs of activity throughout the weekend included Bonn Square and Gloucester Green.

Among the major light installations was Illuminating Oxford in the city centre, with works inspired by the University's museums' collection projected onto historic buildings.

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Some of the city's most iconic buildings joined the festival, including the Museum of Natural History which hosted Friday night tours, talks, activities, music and dances.

There was also a sound installation inspired by inspired by astronomy and the anniversary of the first moon landings by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in 1969.

The installation was triggered by a live performance, along with images of galaxies projected onto buildings.

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The lantern parade. Picture: Jeff Slade.

In Broad Street, a group of large stag puppets, called 'Ghost Caribou' performed dances for visitors in a display organised by Thingamujig Theatre.

Other performers included bands, soloists, and choral groups, alongside street dancers, actors and entertainers.

Among the street musicians were drum ensemble Spark! who mesmerised onlookers with their brightly lit instruments.

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Ahead of the festival, its director Rachel Capell said the Oxford City Council team had been busy preparing for the seasonal celebration since last year.

She said: “The Christmas Light Festival in Oxford is a major event with lots of artists, cultural organisations and community groups all coming together for an amazing weekend of celebration."

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The Ghost Caribou. Picture: Jeff Slade.

She added: "This year’s theme of ‘discovery’ is perfect for Oxford - a seat of learning, research, invention, and creation for more than 900 years."

As the weekend festivities began in the city centre, there was also a series of events on Woodstock Road at the site of the former Radcliffe Infirmary called Humanities Light Night: Oxford Research Unwrapped, which also featured light and sound installations.