THE festive season got off to a sparkling start in Taunton's Orchard Shopping Centre last Thursday.

A large crowd was entertained with musical performances, a fan dancing and stilt walkers.

Taunton's Got Talent winners Absolute Pitch headlined the event, while runners up Emma Sanders and Allana Chloe also took to the stage.

As well as the fan dancer, Fuse Performance thrilled onlookers with a fire and light show.

Elves handed out free mince pies, while Mrs Somerset Dione John and Taunton Carnival Queen Eloise Gould put in an appearance, as did Santa, along with his reindeer and helper.

The lights were switched on by Taunton Deane Mayor Cllr Hazel Prior-Sankey, who was assisted by Orchard competition winners.

The fun marked the start of late night shopping Thursdays in the run up to Christmas, while shops will also be staying open later on Friday and Saturday, December 22 and 23.