HUNDREDS of excited families and friends gathered to watch sports stars switch on Southampton's twinkling Christmas lights last night.

Filling the city with festive cheer, crowds were treated to an array of festive stalls and bars for the first opening night of the Christmas market.

Football players from Saints 1st team, Women's team and the Academy - along with football coaching legend Lawrie McMenemy - had the honour of pressing the button, while East 17, Darren Day and Russell Jones gave special music performances.

And keeping the flocks of families entertained on stage were Southampton groups Rock Choir, Southampton Ukulele Jam, BSO Voices, NST CinderELLA: The Musical and Roaming Street Theatre, along with a giant flying Santa gracing the sky.