THE rain did little to dampen the festive spirit at the Darwen Christmas lights switch-on.

Hundreds of people braved the damp and blustery weather in Market Square to enjoy a two-hour musical spectacular before the lights were switched on.

Excited crowds cheered as X-Factor’s Same Difference, who came to prominence in 2007 when they finished third in the TV talent show, appeared on the stage outside Darwen Markets.

The British bubblegum pop duo, made up of siblings Sean and Sarah Smith, entertained the crowds with hits by George Michael and S Club 7.

Before hitting the switch, the stage was crowded with local dignitaries and hosts Adam Alcock, Martin Cooper and Paul Winstanley from The Bee radio station.

Deputy Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Coun Karimeh Foster and Darwen Town Council Mayor, Paul Browne, wished everyone Merry Christmas before pushing the plunger and lighting up the town.

Coun Foster said: “As usual in Darwen there is a large crowd who know how to party.

"The atmosphere has been great and there is a real sense of community spirit.

“The beauty in Darwen is that the local authority and businesses all muck in together to make sure that everyone has a really good time.”

The crowds were also entertained by Blackburn Search for a Star winner, Nicky Conway, comedian Lewis Costello, local singer Jamie Gallagher, girl band The Seraphims and the Accrington Pipe Band.

Speaking after her performance, Nicky Conway said: “It’s been fantastic.

"I’m still on a high at the moment because the crowd seem to love the songs and they were just going crazy at one point.

“It was really nice seeing everyone having so much fun.”

After the switch-on the audience were treated to a fireworks display.

Sarah Carr from Darwen, who enjoyed the entertainment with her two-year-old daughter Olivia, said: “They did a really good job and it seems like everyone had fun.

“This is the first switch-on that I’ve been to in Darwen and we’ve all had a really nice time.”

Click on the link below for photos from the lights switch-on.