HUGE crowds enjoyed an amazing atmosphere and community spirit at the Northern Lights Tameside Winter Carnival and Lantern Parade in Stalybridge.
The spectacular borough-wide event, organised by Tameside Council working with local businesses and community organisations, was the first of many Christmas celebrations which will be taking place in Tameside town centres over the next few weeks.
The day started with a busy Christmas artisan craft market in Stalybridge Civic Hall as well as a Santa's Grotto – in aid of the Cancer Warriors charity - and funfair in Armentieres square. There was also a beautiful Christmas Tree Grove, with trees decorated by pupils from local primary schools.
At dusk the town was lit up with the dazzling lantern parade, staged in conjunction with festival specialists Global Grooves after the council successfully applied for Arts Council Funding.
More than 17 schools and community groups took part in the parade as well as individuals and families who had taken part in lantern making workshops.
Highlights included a giant fox lantern, which peeked through doors and shops windows on its way round the route as well as coming nose to nose with delighted spectators who were lining the streets and joining in the dancing.
The parade culminated in Armentieres Square for a fantastic finale event with local choirs, dance schools and other performers taking to the stage before Father Christmas joined Civic Mayor Cllr Leigh Drennan, Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington and Executive Member responsible for culture Cllr Leanne Feeley for the countdown and lights switch on.
Stalybridge looked especially beautiful which key features of the town lit up including Stalybridge Civic Hall and Holy Trinity Church, which was illuminated with a magnificent light installation.
Cllr Leanne Feeley said: "Thank you to everyone who joined us for what was a truly wonderful, winter event. I was particularly excited about the Tameside wide event being held in Stalybridge this year and the town and community didn't let us down – the crowds and community spirit were fantastic and everyone enjoyed the amazing performers both in the parade and on stage.
"Local businesses also provided brilliant support for the occasion with many decorating their windows, staying open later and putting on special offers. The event was a great showcase for what our brilliant town centres have to offer the local community and shoppers.
"This has been a fantastic festive start to the season and there's lots more to come in our local town centres in the run up to Christmas so do please join in the celebrations and remember to shop local."
For details of all the town centre Christmas celebration events, which are being led by the community and support by Tameside Council, see www.tameside.gov.uk/christmas