HUNDREDS flocked to the streets of Alresford to witness the town's first Christmas light procession.

Organised by the Watercress Line, more than 300 lanterns made and carried by 600 people were paraded through the town, starting at Perins, walking up West Street and then heading to the stations.

Hundreds more came out to watch the precession, which culminated with the arrival of the Steam Illuminations train.

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Stephanie Swann, partnership, experience and group manager, said that she thought the entire event had been incredibly successful.

Hampshire Chronicle: People enjoying the procession on West StreetPeople enjoying the procession on West Street (Image: Stuart Martin Photography)She said: “I think it’s amazing that for the first year, and I hope there will be a second one, it seems to have been incredibly popular. A lot of people have wanted to participate.

“I think people like the kind of warm community feel you get from everyone doing something together, the tremendous energy. I used to organise the Winchester Lantern Procession, I helped start it 16 years ago, and when I started working here I thought we could replicate some of those things in Alresford – it was popular in Winchester and I thought it could be popular here too.

“All ages can take part, and you can be one person making a lantern on your own or you can be a huge group doing it as a collective effort, and I like that warm feeling of people working together in an excited way for the common good.”

Watercress Line CEO Rebecca Dalley was also enthusiastic about the success of the procession.

She told the Chronicle: “We’ve been absolutely thrilled with how many people have turned up for it. It’s been an amazing partnership between the town and the Watercress Line, and we have this incredible partnership of light, between the light of the lanterns and the light of the Steam Illuminations. We have the fact that the Watercress Line is all about celebrating the town of Alresford and keeping that all together. It’s absolutely wonderful.

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Hampshire Chronicle: Hundreds of lanterns were created for the eventHundreds of lanterns were created for the event (Image: Stuart Martin Photography)“I’m so thrilled because people have come from all over. And to know that we are so beloved by the local community is really heartening for us. It’s been a tough time for all heritage railways, and all charities, so knowing that people are willing to come along and celebrate is wonderful.

“I think the light train is a really important moment, it marks the beginning of Christmas, and it feels like that today as well.

“It’s a little bit colder, it’s a little bit Christmas, and everyone is feeling that it is the beginning of the new season.”

A gallery of photos from the procession can be viewed by clicking the picture at the top of the article.