THOUSANDS of people turned out to join the launch of the festive season in Bicester and Didcot.

Four Olympic Torch bearers led celebrations in Didcot, while Bicester’s mayor Dan Sames, with the help of schools’ drawing competition winners Rushani Arumugham, 10, and Elise Emberton, seven, of Bure Park School, pressed the button to turn on the town’s Christmas lights.

Bicester’s Sheep Street was lined with stalls, fair rides, and games, Santa Claus was there with his sleigh and there was even snow at the event this week — although it was fake.

Local teenager Jamie Felton, 15, Funky Carols by Churches Together in Bicester, and school choirs from Brookside, St Edburg’s, Langford and St Mary’s schools entertained the crowds.

Mr Sames said: “The event went fantastically well. “It was a really good event and there were lots of people there, the choirs were great and Jamie was brilliant.”

Mr Sames also handed out prizes to children who came first, second and third in the contest.

Natasha Slater, 10, of Sandpiper Close, Bicester, went along to the festivities with dad Paul.

She said: “I had a really nice time and really enjoyed myself.

“It was nice being out, seeing the lights. I’m on the countdown to Christmas day now.”

In Didcot about 60 stalls lined the Orchard Centre, for the 19th Christmas Street Fair, alongside rides, games and entertainment from local musicians and singers.

Four Olympic and Paralympic Torch bearers led the annual parade in the town.

Torch bearers were Mo Merchant, Paul Griffiths, Josh Cox and Dave Bracher, who had carried the Paralympic Torch.

Chairman of the Christmas Street Fair committee Jeanette Howse said: “Thousands of people turned out, it was packed.”

“Four Olympic Torch bearers led the parade. They were all from Didcot but had all carried torches elsewhere, so we thought it would be nice for Didcot to see all its torch bearers.

“Everyone was cheering them as they came down.”

Didcot’s mayor Peter Read said: “It was a spectacular show, there was huge crowds, it was 10 people deep for the parade.”