THE countdown to Christmas will be officially switched on in Stourport tomorrow when £65,000 of lights will dazzle the town centre.

More than 5,000 people are expected to fill the streets to witness the popular Three Kings Parade, which starts at 6pm from Shipley's Amusement Centre car park in Bridge Street.

The procession, extended this year, will wind its way through High Street, Lion Hill, York Street and New Street before ending at the Civic Centre for the big switch-on ceremony.

Long-serving beat bobby, PC Jayne Watkins, who retires next week, will turn on the Yuletide spirit after a short carol service at about 6.30pm.

Stourport Rotary Club's Santa Claus will be on hand after the lights go live to pose for photographs with youngsters and take their all-important wish-lists.

Festive flavours to warm up visitors are being cooked up at a host of cafes staying opening late for the event. Stourport Social Day Centre will also provide refreshments.

Children young and old will be able to get some thrills at a funfair, on Raven Street car park, and most shops are open until 8pm.

Pete Roberts, Three Kings parade organiser, said: "The waiting is almost over now and the excitement is building. It does take a lot of work to put it on but it is always worth it.

"It gets bigger each year and everyone always has a great time. The message to the people of the town is come on down and enjoy yourselves."

Buskers will be on the streets but it is not too late for people to join in. Anyone interested in providing entertainment should call Mr Roberts on 01299 826930.

l See the Shuttle online for a picture gallery of Friday's big switch-on.