MORE than 100 people were dazzled by the return of a legendary Christmas lights switch-on event on a road sometimes dubbed “the most festive” in the UK.

Dozens of families packed into Byron Road, New Milton, to see a row of festive houses lit up for the first time since 2019.

The event, which has welcomed numerous famous faces in years gone by, was held annually from 2004 to 2019 – until Covid restrictions and cost forced its cancellation the next year.

Founder and organiser Ged Hollyoake said: “It’s great to be back. It’s a bit less this year than previous as we used to have the road closed and everything but it became too expensive so we’ve done it a bit more open this time.

Bournemouth Echo: Byron Road Christmas lightsByron Road Christmas lights

“The garage next to us has kindly lent us the car park to keep the road clear with all the equipment and also we’ve got the One Show here filming and on December 1 we’ve got Good Morning Britain coming.

“Since starting we’ve raised £85,700 for various charities but our charity this year is the NHS. With what they’ve done during the pandemic, they deserve it.

“Please come down and see the lights and if you could donate anything to our charity box that would be brilliant. We thank everyone who comes.”

Ged added he would keep trying to put on the event until he gets “too old”.

The crowd counted down from 10 just after 5pm on Sunday before several houses lit up the dark sky with cheers echoing throughout the road.

Resident Jemma Slade attended the switch-on with her children. She said: “When you’re in times like we are now when people can get a bit down, this is something that’s going to brighten you up.

“We missed the year before the last one and we’ve missed it because we love it. My son was a baby the last time we came and he’s four now. I’ve got pictures of them all dancing with a Santa here when they were tiny and they still love it.

Bournemouth Echo: Byron Road Christmas lightsByron Road Christmas lights

“The NHS have done such a great job, they really are the heroes at the moment.”

The centrepiece decoration was an illuminated NHS sign with a rainbow above.

Residents Colin Scott and Anja Heijnen were at the event for the first time. Colin said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, we love Christmas. We actually came a day early would you believe. We saw it advertised in the Echo and were stood here at this time yesterday thinking, where is everybody?

“Then we realised it was today and came back. It’s just amazing and it’s for a great cause, I feel quite emotional seeing it all because we’re real Christmas fans. This is going to be a traditional thing for us now, we’ll be back every year.”

Anja added: “With the times the NHS has had, this is a really wonderful thing to do.”