HUNDREDS of children made Kidderminster's big Christmas lights switch-on a magical time as they paraded through the streets in colourful fancy dress costumes.

Crowds packed into Vicar Street to watch Santa and mayor Paul Harrison switch on the thousands of tiny star-like lights that adorn the garlands suspended across the town centre streets.

They were joined on the town hall balcony by the winners of the parade's fancy dress competition, which used the enchanting Nutcracker story as a theme.

Leisure services manager Sue Harper said about 200 youngsters many from Rainbows, Beavers, Brownies and Guides took part in the parade, along with individual children.

"The costumes were really good and the parade was excellent - extremely colourful," said Miss Harper.

She said town was very busy and the large crowds enjoyed the carol service led by youngsters from Wolverley and Cookley schools prior to the lights switch-on.

There was also lots of fun in the Swan Centre with singing from Shuttle/Times & News sales executive singer Lisa-J, crooner Steve Diamond and Kidderminster Male Choir.

Santa's grotto opened for the first time and youngsters also enjoyed a talent show, face painting, paint tatoos, hair-braiding, a treasure hunt and chocolate fountain, while caricaturist Stan Hurr proved a big hit with shoppers.

Centre manager Ros Darby said: "Most of the stores had a brilliant Saturday, their best so far and the entertainment did bring a lot of people into the centre."

See Picture Galleries for more pictures from the switch-on ceremonies in Kidderminster and Stourport