FAMILIES descended on Stroud for the annual Goodwill Evening on Friday.

Hundreds of visitors thronged the streets amid a carnival atmosphere buzzing with seasonal excitement and Christmas cheer.

Just before 6pm, crowds gathered on the Sub Rooms forecourt for the countdown to the Christmas lights switch-on, presided over by Santa himself, and afterwards revellers joined in a lantern procession.

A special Christmas farmers’ market in Cornhill was teeming with shoppers purchasing gifts and stocking fillers and there was plenty of hot food to fight the wintry chill.

There were also festive markets in the Shambles and the Sub Rooms and a charity market in Merrywalks.

Enlivened by the magic of Christmas, beaming youngsters enjoyed fairground rides and circus skill displays, while adults congregated in the streets to sing carols and hymns.

Buskers and musicians performed on the streets, inside Merrywalks and at the Sub Rooms, while the pedal-powered Rinky Dink Sound System made its way around town.

Children from the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts performed in Merrywalks Shopping Centre.

A Goodwill Treasure Hunt for younger ones was laid on by Bateman’s, R and R Books, Kendrick Street Gallery, the British Heart Foundation store, Caer Sidi Crafts, Treasure Seekers, Cornflower and Calico, the Made In Stroud shop, Moonflower and Moonflower Too.

Environmental charity Stroud Valleys Project also made its contribution to the Christmas spirit with workshops at its shop in Threadneedle Street.

Youngsters made Christmas decorations from beeswax and created environmentally-friendly shopping bags.

To see more pictures go to the Stroud Goodwill gallery