THOUSANDS of people turned out at the Cwmbran Centre on last night to see the Christmas lights being switched on.

There was fun for all the family at the festive event, with elves putting on a show on the main stage, the opening of Santa’s grotto, and an appearance from Santa himself.

The night also featured a performance from the children at Nant Celyn Primary School, who were returning for a third year at the event.

It is estimated that about 5,000 people attended the event.

Before the big switch on, the main stage featured live music from Niki Pope, Macy Music, No One Knows and The Rhythm Methods.

There was also a routine involving secret service elves abseiling down from the roof of the shopping centre to try and find Santa, who had gone missing.

The main event took place as Wales legend Daniel Gabbidon took to the stage with Santa and his elves to switch on the lights.

Mr Gabbidon said: “It’s great to be a part of. I feel honoured and privileged.

“Being a local lad up until the age of 16 when I left Cwmbran, the town has played a massive part in developing myself in to the person I am now.

“When I spoke to Rikki (Teml, Cwmbran Centre manager) this time last year about taking part, I jumped at the chance.

“I just had a quick walk through town centre and it’s crazy. To walk through the town and see all the kids dressed up, and with a big screen at the side of the town, the stage going up, the music going on and the stalls selling food it’s amazing. It’s amazing to see how much the town has developed so much from when I was a kid.”

“To see the size of the event tonight is mind-blowing.”

Those who attended got in to the spirit of the season, and enjoyed the evening of festive singing and dancing.

Jess Davies, from Caerleon, said: “It’s lovely. There’s a really nice atmosphere.

“We come here every year. We do it for the kids, they really love it.”

Ceri Gooding, from Cwmbran, said: “It’s fantastic, just like it is every year.The kids think it’s brilliant.”

“We’re looking forward to seeing Santa up on stage and seeing the fireworks.”

As a part of the season of goodwill, the Cwmbran Centre will be making a donation to Cancer Research Wales, whom Daniel is an ambassador of.

Mr Gabbidon said: “When I spoke to Rikki about switching the lights on tonight, he mentioned making a donation to a charity of my choice. I am actually an ambassador for Cancer Research Wales who do amazing work in to cancer prevention. It’s a charity that is really close to my heart.”

“The opportunity to get Cancer Research involved and the kindness to get Cwmbran town centre to donate to the charity was fantastic.

“Any way that we can help is fantastic.”