HUNDREDS of families crowded into Great Malvern town centre on Saturday for the annual Christmas festival, including the traditional lantern parade and lights switch-on.

The fun began at 10am, with a full programme of performances throughout the day from the Malvern St James Choir, Mike Skilbeck, Malvern Area Music String Orchestra, Malvern Chase Brass Band and Malvern Hills District Brass Band.

Various events were held around the town on Church Street, Belle Vue Island, the Priory and Abbey Road, and in the Lyttelton Rooms, Malvern Library, and Malvern Community Hospital.

Father Christmas was in his grotto at the library in Graham Road, and had a busy time taking present requests from all the good boys and girls.

There was plenty on offer for visitors to enjoy, from vintage cars, dancers and circus stilt walkers to face painters, bell ringers and craft workshops.

An arts and food market was held from 10.30am to 6.30pm in the priory grounds and Abbey Road, giving shoppers the chance to buy special gifts and a wide variety of culinary delights.

Handmade cakes and crafts from Malvern County Market were also available in the Lyttelton Rooms.

The lantern parade then began at 5.40pm with those taking part making their way up to Belle Vue Island for the big light switch-on at 6pm in front of the town’s Christmas tree.

This year the stars of Malvern Theatres pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs did the honours.

The Great Malvern Christmas Festival was organised by Malvern Hills District Council in partnership with Malvern Town Council, Worcestershire County Council, BBC Hereford and Worcester and Boffy Arts Markets.