Thousands packed two Moray town centres at the weekend to celebrate the start of the festive period.
More than 3,000 people descended on Buckie for the town’s Christmas Kracker extravaganza while parades were also held in Forres.
Youngsters, who wore fancy dress for the occasion, marvelled at the festive lights that have been erected in both towns.
Yesterday, organisers in Buckie praised the response from locals and businesses for the success of the event, which was cancelled following last year’s event amid fears it was actually having a “detrimental” effect.
Chairman Gordon Cowie revealed Saturday’s celebrations had received “phenomenal” support from traders, shoppers and volunteers.
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A packed programme of entertainment ran throughout the day in Cluny Square with local performers including a fiddle group and choir made up of school pupils, the community choir and local pipe band taking to the stage.
A fire engine was brought to the town centre amongst fun fair rides and stalls for youngsters to sample what life is like in the emergency services.
A parade of floats celebrating local causes helped bolster funds for charities before a Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers tribute act built anticipation for the flick to be switched on the Christmas lights by actor James Hooton, who has stared as Sam Dingle in Emmerdale since 1995.
Mr Cowie said: “Everybody really pulled together to make it happen. There was phenomenal support from local businesses.
“I saw people who had come down at lunch time still there for the lights at the end, so there was something there to keep them out for the whole day.
“We’re a small tight knit community so we’ve only got a small committee to organise it but we had a lot of help from volunteers on the day – people just want to help out, which was nice to see.”
In Forres, Santa headed a parade of youngsters and the junior pipe band to the Christmas tree on the High Street to watch the lights being turned on before music was performed by Elgin City Band.
Christmas celebration saved
This year’s Buckie Christmas Kracker was saved following an outcry from locals after organisers pulled the plug.
The popular event was cancelled in February after the committee was told that the annual celebrations were actually having a “detrimental” impact on trade in the town centre.
The decision followed the Kracker Christmas tree being vandalised by drunken vandals in December.
Organisers explained the decision was taken with a “heavy heart” due to the community spirit generated on the day.
However, that decision was reversed a month later after a new committee decided the positives of continuing with the extravaganza outweighed the negatives.
Members of the community inundated organisers with demands to reinstate the event amid concerns that locals would travel elsewhere in order to welcome in the festive period.
Up to 4,000 people have attended the annual bash since it was first held seven years ago.
The Kracker has hosted some of the country’s most cherished soap stars to switch on the town’s decorations amid a programme of entertainment that has been packed with music and activities aimed at all ages.