Published: 17:17, 18 November 2021
| Updated: 20:53, 18 November 2021
The festive season has officially begun in Maidstone after the town's Christmas lights were switched on this evening.
A cheering crowd watched as Father Christmas and Maidstone Mayor Cllr Faye Gooch switched on the display.
Watch: Father Christmas and the Maidstone Mayor switch the Christmas lights on
The evening, which kicked off at 5pm, was hosted by Garry and Claire's kmfm, with performances from the cast of the Hazlitt Theatre’s panto Jack and the Beanstalk, IDMC Gospel Choir, Hazlitt Choir, Hazlitt Dance Company and the duo Gemini.
There was a huge crowd as people enjoyed the performances, with crowds stretching back as far as Lush in Jubilee Square.
Last year's event was cancelled because of Covid-19, and families spoke of how nice it was to attend a live event this season.
Billy Reed and her family were attending.
She said, gesturing to the children in the group: "We missed it for two years. They have been so excited to come, they love it,"
After the switch on, crowds sang along to All I want for Christmas is You, by Mariah Carey.
Speaking afterwards, KMFM's own Claire Lawson said: "It has been absolutely incredible, huge crowds. Garry and I absolutely loved it."
She said the fact the event didn't happen last year made this year even more special.
"It's a time for families and kids to come together," she added.
watch: the crowd sings enjoys a sing-along after the Christmas lights are switched on
Twelve months ago the borough was at the centre of tougher restrictions as the so-called Kent variant of Covid-19 became the most dominant strain in Britain.
It forced organisers One Maidstone, the Business Improvement District (BID), to host a virtual switch-on event over YouTube.
Ilsa Butler, BID manager, said: “The last couple of years have been immensely challenging for our businesses and it is through their contributions that Maidstone has its wonderful display of Christmas lights and it is so exciting to have a live event again in the heart of the town.”