40,000 smiles as city sparkles under Christmas lights
Up to 40,000 people turned out to see parades and the official switching on of the Christmas lights in Dublin last night.
However, one of two parades was prevented from entering O'Connell Street due to the enormous crowds as the sparkling event became a victim of its own success.
A million festive lights were strung throughout the city centre by the DublinTown organisation on behalf of the businesses in the city centre.
Some 30 city streets were illuminated in the glittering spectacle.
The plan was for two processions - with one starting on Grafton Street and the other on Mary Street - to join together at the 40ft-high Christmas tree in O'Connell Street.
A parade from St Stephen's Green travelled through Grafton Street and Westmoreland Street, but was prevented by gardai from crossing O'Connell Bridge because of health and safety reasons.
The other parade travelled from Mary Street on the north side and down Henry Street, before turning into Moore Street and Parnell Street to enter O'Connell Street from the north end.
Lord Mayor Micheal Mac Donncha officially switched on the lights at the tree but expressed disappointment that the parades could not merged as planned.
"I heard that 30,000 to 40,000 people came to the event," said the Lord Mayor.
Meanwhile, at Arnotts department store on Henry Street, Santa Claus arrived to a huge welcome in a Victorian horse-drawn red carriage, where he was greeted by hundreds of excited children.
Santa was joined by TV and radio presenter Baz Ashmawy and his mum Nancy, as well as Kyra McGuinness (5), as he paraded down Henry Street for his official arrival at the shop.
Arnotts is supporting the LauraLynn Children's Hospice this Christmas.
The store is asking for a donation of €5 per family for visiting Santa, with 100pc going to the charity.
Baz told of how he has lots of fond memories of visiting Santa Claus at Arnotts when he was younger.