BUMPER crowds packed out Ringwood at the weekend for the town's Christmas lights switch-on, parade and market.

Santa paraded through town and there was live music and even live animals on show.

Ringwood Town Council Cllr Tony Ring, one of the members of the organising Ringwood Events Committee, told the Daily Echo: "The thing about it was that everything there was local - all the stores, the charities, they were all Ringwood based.

"So were the sponsors and donators. It brought things together quite nicely we thought.

"We had a horse and cart donated and provided by the Sampson family, everything was voluntary."

Cllr Ring explained the market and parade also coincided with the Furlong Shopping Centre, The Meeting House and the parish church all having festive activities. So what happened is that people could meander around the whole town and got a taste of everything."

The lights went on at 4.30pm, with the market taking place and Santa's Grotto welcoming children from the morning.

Cllr Ring said: "From the stage, an Abacus trailer donated by them free of charge, there was an absolute sea of solid humanity around the whole Market Place and as far down the High Street as could be seen."

There was also free parking at all New Forest District Council car parks, in support of the Small Business Saturday initiative.

Visitor Marc Smith, who was in Ringwood with his young family, said: "This events are great really, I know people go on every year about how Christmas is getting more and more commercialised, but this is great for the kids."

Maggie Stephenson said: "It is well and truly put the town in the Christmas spirit, even though it seems to get earlier and earlier every year."