HUNDREDS of people packed into a city centre to watch Father Christmas switch on the Christmas tree lights.

Last night, the crowd in Durham's Market Place was entertained by samba playing elves, a rock band and a flash mob of choirs.

Drummers, an orchestra and swing singers and dancers were also involved in the free family event, aimed at getting the city into the Christmas spirit.

Organised by Durham's Business Improvement District, musicians belted out renditions of popular Christmas tunes to keep visitors entertained.

The Northern Echo:

A BID spokeswoman said: "From a drummer, swing singers and dancers, to a rock band, samba playing elves and a full blown orchestra complete with a flash mob of choirs in the crowd closing the show with Carol of the Bells, it was a great night!"

The event kick-started the season's festivities in the city, which is set to continue all weekend with Durham's annual Christmas Festival.

Visitors can make the most of several Christmas markets going on around the city to make inroads into their Christmas shopping, which are open until Sunday.

There will be live music playing around the city on Saturday and Sunday, as well as children's entertainment, Santa's grotto, falconry and carol services at Durham Cathedral.

The Northern Echo: