IN a year where many Christmas festivities and events have been cancelled because of the pandemic, we’re remembering when families gathered at Castlepoint Shopping Centre for the Christmas lights switch-on in 2016.

A throne fit for Father Christmas was placed beneath the shopping centre’s famous giant illuminated reindeer and as he arrived, 50s band Miss Annie and the Midnight Shift blasted festive tunes from the stage.

Bournemouth Echo: Father Christmas greeted many excited childrenFather Christmas greeted many excited children

The excitement amongst the children was palpable as they queued up to tell Father Christmas what they wanted for Christmas that year.

Meanwhile, roller skaters dressed as large, shiny baubles zipped through the crowds, and a snow king and queen posed for pictures as they towered over the shoppers.

Bournemouth Echo: One of the many roller skating baublesOne of the many roller skating baubles

Anticipation soared as 6pm and the countdown to the Christmas lights switch-on approached.

Helping to light up the festive decorations were members of the Cinderella pantomime cast. Strictly and Tracy Beaker star Dani Harmer was joined by her prince charming, Rhydian Roberts from the X Factor and ugly sisters David Ball and Michael Chance.

As the Christmas lights dazzled the shopping centre and spectators, a snow machine was also switched on to really make it feel like Christmas.

Bournemouth Echo: The Christmas scene was set with snowThe Christmas scene was set with snow

Were you at Castlepoint for this Christmas lights switch-on?