RAYLEIGH showed its community spirit with its Christmas Lights switch-on.

The whole high street was closed to cars so that the festive fun could take over the town centre.

Attractions included Father Christmas on his sleigh, festive stalls, school choirs, the Mushroom Theatre Company and much more.

BBC Essex was also broadcasting live from 6.30pm for the big switch-on with Southend United Football Club players.

Local singer Reggie Manus took to the stage to perform festive tunes.

Many shops were offering late night openings for those keen to get their Christmas gift shopping off to a good start and there were also stalls from local organisations, including The Hamelin Trust and Edward Francis Parents’ Association.

The whole event was bustling with thousands of people attending.

Cheryl Roe, chairman of the Christmas Light committee, said: “It was brilliant.

“The weather was kind to us and everyone enjoyed it.

“I was walking up and down and I don’t think there was an ounce of trouble throughout the whole event.

“Everyone worked together and it really showed the community spirit of Rayleigh.

“Every year we see more and more people and I would say that thousands attended this year.

“Thank you to everyone for supporting us.”