THE FESTIVE season is in full swing across Oxfordshire as two more towns begin the countdown to Christmas.

Lanterns were paraded through the streets of Bicester for this year’s Christmas light switch on event.

The lantern parade, staged by arts charity OYAP, was part of the annual event which officially begins the Christmas season in the town.

Hundreds of lights lit up the town’s Christmas tree and town centre along Sheep Street and Market Square, and a live samba band performance and nativity animals helped entertain the crowds of families.

Father Christmas also took a moment out of his busy schedule to join in the festivities on Thursday.

Laura Dobson, of OYAP Trust, said: “Children and families from across Bicester came together to light up the streets with their willow lanterns, inspired by the idea of 'journeys'.

“Around 70 lanterns were created for the parade during a series of school and community workshops which were run by OYAP Trust, in partnership with Oxfordshire Museums Service.”

Bicester Town Mayor Les Sibley did the honours of turning on the Christmas lights alongside the winners of the Christmas Snowflake Treasure Hunt staged in town over recent weeks.

The lanterns will now be exhibited at The Studio in Crown Walk, Bicester, until Monday.

Meanwhile, in Didcot it was back to the swinging sixties for Didcot's 24th annual Christmas fair.

Thousands enjoyed the 70 festive stalls from community groups, churches and clubs in the town centre from 4pm on Thursday, as well as fairground rides, face painting and DJs playing 60s hits.

There was also live music from stages set up outside Boots and in Broadway with performances by The Zombies, whose lead singer Colin Blunstone officially opened the event, and cover acts playing songs from the decade.

A highlight of Christmas in Didcot is the festive parade and this year was no exception, with more than 150 walkers, musicians and entertainers taking part, as well as famous vintage cars including Herbie.

Organiser Jeanette Howse, of Didcot events, said this year's theme had been chosen because the 60s were a 'special decade for the town' with Didcot Railway Centre and other popular shops opening during the decade.