THOUSANDS of people joined the festive fun as they helped to launch Christmas in Bicester this year.

The town centre was transformed into a winter wonderland with a host of festive stalls and activities.

Throughout the day street entertainers including roller-skating baubles and a light-up icicle roamed the town centre.

Children put their skating skills to the test by hopping onto the ice rink and toddlers enjoyed the kids fair rides, nativity farm animals and huskies.

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Father Christmas made an appearance on his sleigh and children were able to take pictures with him.

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Organised by Bicester Town Council, the day started with the OneBicester Christmas market where stalls sold a range of arts and crafts, street food, craft beer and festive refreshments.

From 12pm, entertainment began and ran until 7pm where there were performances by a host of local groups including students from Adele Peters Performing Arts School, Just Dance, Rhythm Street performing pop covers and Christmas tunes, Stagecoach and singer, Emily Ottaway.

One of the highlights was the lantern parade which involved scores of young people who had made “stunning” lanterns at workshops hosted by OYAP (Oxfordshire Youth Arts Partnership) Trust, based at the former St Edburg’s School, in Cemetery Lane.

The arts group has helped at previous town events including Bicester Festival in the summer.

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Led by the LED Drummers, the parade weaved its way through Sheep Street and into Market Square, where Mayor Jason Slaymaker and resident Chloe Kinch Jones, who won the prize for the best lantern, pressed the all-important button to light-up the town’s Christmas displays.

Councillor Slaymaker said: “What a perfect day. It was wonderful to see the town centre so busy with families enjoying the festive fun.

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“For me the lantern parade was one of the highlights - it was a spectacle to see. So many young people had been involved in both creating some amazing lanterns and taking part in the parade. It was certainly a difficult job to pick the winner."

On the main stage, in Market Square, a host of local talent performed songs, sketches and dance routines, including students from Adele Peters Performing Arts School, Stagecoach and Just Dance, while local bands Rhythm Street, Roguey Roads and singer Emily Ottaway.

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Mr Slaymaker added: “Launching Christmas in Bicester was very special. I hope people will now enjoy the lights and the sparkling trees as we build up to December 25.”

Bicester Village kindly sponsored the entertainment and Christmas tree in Sheep Street and K2 Recruitment sponsored the Christmas tree in Market Square.

For the second year running, the event coincided with Small Business Saturday in a bid to help give retailers a boost.

The town's next festive event will be the Bicester Santa Run on December 15. To sign up to it, go to