The Christmas countdown in Croydon is fully underway after the town’s lights were turned on last night.

It was a great evening as thousands of Croydon residents turned up to see the big switch on.

Eastenders star Laila Morse, who is featuring in Fairfield Halls’ Christmas pantomime, was joined on stage by the Mayor of Croydon Eddy Arram to turn on the lights.

Entertainment included Love To Dance, Bubblegum Dance, the Shirley Tappers & The Hot Foot Tappers, Anglo/Maltese singer Sophie and Impulse Bollystreet.

Inside the Whitgift Centre, Crystal Palace Football Club had a great surprise for Palace fans.

Fan favourite Wilfried Zaha turned up to meet and greet fans despite getting back from England duty in the early hours of the morning.

New manager Ian Holloway signed autographs and spoke to the crowds outside on the main stage.

He was joined by his assistant Keith Millen, Captain Paddy McCarthy and Dean Moxey, Peter Ramage, Joel Ward and Lewis Price.

The infamous Crystal Girls were also in attendance. They performed a dance on stage and were also signing copies of their 2013 calendar.

Matthew Sims, Chief Executive of Croydon BID, said he was delighted with how the evening went and how many people turned up.

He said: “It was fantastic. It was a great evening for everyone of all ages. We had more than 4,000 people turn up. It was all we could have hoped for.

“We had Christmas puddings on roller skates, giant candy sticks, people on stilts, the Crystals came on stage to do their thing and of course the Crystal Palace players and management came on stage as well.

“Plus we had the cast from the Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime which was enjoyed by all.

“Croydon is so diverse and we wanted to cater for everyone. The new Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway spoke to the crowds and he just seems to connect with Croydon and Crystal Palace. It was great.”

Click here for more photos of the Croydon Christmas lights switch-on in our picture gallery