A CROWD of thousands lined Southend town centre to enjoy a fun-packed day of entertainment as the town got its Christmas celebrations under way with its annual Big Switch On event.

The Royals and Victoria shopping centres kickstarted with family-orientated arts and crafts activities, followed by BBC Essex showcasing talented performers on the Visit Southend stage in Royals Square.

Popular radio presenter Dom Atkins also introduced a fabulous line-up of acts, before handing the mic to legendary breakfast show presenters, Martin Day and Su Harrison.

As the countdown to turning on the High Street’s striking illuminations began, they were joined on the main stage by EastEnders actor Ricky Champ and The Voice sensation, Sarah Tucker.

After their hit Heart Essex radio show ended back in May, Southend BID reunited Martin and Su especially for the Big Switch On and for Su, it was an emotional experience.

She said: “What a great night. We had such a fabulous time and it was amazing seeing so many people there. It was a lot of fun being back together again, doing what we love to do and it was so nice to have so many people come and talk to us.”

Su then teased: “We will be back on the radio very soon. So, watch this space.”

Southend Business Improvement District manager, Suzanne Gloyne said: “It was an incredible turn-out this year. The number of people who came to show their support for the town and our businesses, whilst taking part in the full day of events was outstanding.

“The BID team and our partners all pulled together to put on an amazing day, jam-packed with exciting, free activities throughout the High Street.

“There were lots of happy kids proudly taking home their works of art from the free crafts events, the new Busking Bus was a brilliant addition for artists and we had great performances on both of our stages.”