HUNDREDS of people braved the weather to see Blackburn’s Christmas lights switched on.

The town centre celebrations kicked off the festive season in style, with special appearances from some much loved characters including Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the main man himself, Father Christmas.

It had been expected that bands, including Lancashire group Boomin, would play after the switch-on, but because of the wind and rain, the performances had to be cancelled at the last minute.

But organisers said they had been determined to go ahead with the main event for everyone who had come out for the evening.

Entertainment was provided at Blakey’s, King George’s Hall, for excited youngsters prior to the switch on.

Then the crowd gathered outside the town hall for the moment the lights would be turned on by cartoon favourites Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants.

A fireworks display wrapped up the evening’s festivities.

Will Walsh, 18, who lives at the Nightsafe centre in Blackburn, said: “I was really looking forward to seeing the lights switched on and seeing Spongebob Squarepants.

“It always feels like Christmas once the lights are on and then you can start celebrating.”

Mum Sophie Leatherd, 21, who travelled from Whalley with her son Lucas for the switch on, said: “People come from all over and the children really want to see the characters.”

And five-year-old Megan Golding, who went along with mum Debbie Taylor, said: “It was really nice seeing Rudolph and I am really excited for Christmas now, although I don’t know what I am getting.”

Kevin Iddon, from Townsend Music, which manages Boomin, said: “It was a disappointment not to have them perform, but I am sure it did not have much impact on how many people turned up.

“I got a text from Rock FM, which was organising the event, at about 3pm to confirm that the entertainment section was being changed due to heal;th and safety.”

A statement released by Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “Due to the strong winds and heavy rain some changes to the programme had to be made.”