There was plenty of Christmas cheer to go around as a town welcomed the festive season.

Crowds flocked to Bridport town centre last night to celebrate the annual Christmas Cheer event. The event kicked off with carols by local schools at the United Church and Bucky Doo.

Live music was on offer outside The Bull and Ropemakers, while dance performances took place at the Electric Palace and outside Bridport Antiques.

The big events kicked off in the evening, with a lantern parade from Barrack Street to the borough gardens which featured the colourful creations of children from in and around the Bridport area.

Guest of honour, Father Christmas, arrived to open the grotto before the Christmas lights were switched on by town mayor, Cllr Barry Irvine.

Throughout the town many business got involved in late night shopping with more than 70 stalls, including arts, crafts, local produce, food and charity stalls in the town hall, Art Centre, Electric Palace and along West, East and South Street.

Fairground rides added to the fun in South Street and most town businesses got into the spirit by offering seasonal refreshments.

Ilaria Padovani has lived in Bridport for four years and brings her children each year. She said: “It’s wonderful. The children love it. There are a lot of fun things for them to do and they love to see Santa“

Another Cheer-goer said: “we were worried when we saw the rain but we’re so glad it’s cleared up. “An awful lot of hard work has gone into this. The parade and Santa are the best bits – the kids are delighted.”

Bridport mayor Cllr Barry Irvine switched on the lights after a crowd countdown. He said: “It’s a brilliant event and a brilliant atmosphere. We were worried about the heavy rain but thankfully it went off. It’s great to see such a good crowd and lots of kids and families.

“It’s brilliant. Bridport feels very Christmassy now.”