Until the coronavirus pandemic struck, thousands of people in Oxford and towns across Oxfordshire would gather to see their Christmas lights switched on, with some traders staying open late.

Last year such large gatherings did not go ahead due to the virus.

Here we look at photos from Abingdon and Witney town centres in 2018.

Oxford Mail:

That year thousands of people wrapped up warm one weekend in early December to see Christmas lights turned on in Witney, Thame and Carterton on Friday, Abingdon and Bicester on Saturday, and Wallingford on Sunday.

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

The previous 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.

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

Oxford Mail:

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.

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

At exactly the same time as Abingdon’s lights were switched on in 2018, Bicester also lit up as families packed into Market Square.

Oxford Mail:

Read more: All the fireworks displays happening this year

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.

Oxford Mail:

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.

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