THE lights are blaring in Stowmarket after a celebrity switch on.

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The Christmas lights were switched on in Stowmarket on Friday as thousands of people got into the festive spirit.

Ipswich Town hero Matt Holland and TV star Griff Rhys Jones made the town come alive when they turned the lights on in front of a packed Market Place.

Children took part in a torchlight procession from the Museum of East Anglian Life to St Peter and St Mary’s Church dressed as characters from the nativity.

Town centre manager Sharon Brown said: “It’s been great all the retailers are pulling together and even the weather has been good for us.

“Last we had more than 2,500 people and this year we are expecting the number to be greater this year.

“It’s been promoted more than last year and having the two big names turn on the lights has helped. There’s been a great atmosphere and people have been very positive about it.”

Mr Rhys Jones also turned the lights on at the church’s annual Christmas Tree Festival. The festival, which attracts thousands of visitors each year, will continue until January 5.

In Sudbury, hundreds of late night shoppers braved the cold and took to the town centre streets, all eager to get a first glimpse of the newly lit Christmas tree outside St Peter’s Church and sample the delicious festive fayre served up by stall holders on and around Market Hill.

The crisp weather provided ideal conditions for the many youngsters who were keen to don skates and take to the ice in a specially erected skating rink.

A snow machine transformed the area, which is usually home to the weekly market, into a winter wonderland.

The bells of St Peter’s rang out as the countdown to the light switch-on approached. Official duties this year were carried out by town mayor Jack Owen, assisted by local radio presenter Mark Murphy and a local student who had written and asked if she could have the honour of flicking the switch.

As the illuminations twinkled overhead, the Sudbury and Long Melford Salvation Army Band struck up a rendition of Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Trade was also brisk in the town’s North Street, which was lined with craft stalls, fairground rides and food vendors.

Mr Owen hailed the event a great success, adding: “We are delighted that so many people have chosen to come out tonight. It’s great to see the crowds here enjoying themselves and making the most of our what our wonderful town has to offer.”

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