CHRISTMAS kicked off with a bang as Eastleigh was transformed into a festive wonderland.

Fireworks fizzed and whizzed into the night sky as Santa Claus took time out from his busy schedule to get the Christmas celebrations started.

Hundreds of people packed the town centre to see the town explode into colour with Santa leading the Christmas Lights Parade through the high street.

Following behind were a marching band, youngsters dressed up in festive costumes and even the stormtroopers from Star Wars.

Santa then had the honour of switching on the Christmas lights, with the Mayor of Eastleigh, John Caldwell, from the bandstand in Leigh Road Recreation Ground, after the crowds got into the Christmas spirit with some carol singing.

As the angelic illuminations above the bandstand came to life, a dazzling fireworks display lit up the Eastleigh skyline as those below stood open-mouthed, huddled under their scarves and woolly hats for extra warmth.

Christmas cheer was sprinkled over shoppers throughout the day, with a host of family activities and live entertainment taking to the stage.

Youngsters got the chance to make some furry friends at the mini farm, get crafty and hop onboard fairground rides. Those brave enough dared to attempt a specially-erected climbing wall outside the Swan Centre.