Santa arrived in Cork to great fanfare tonight to switch on the Christmas lights.
Thousands of people braved the freezing temperatures to gather on Patrick’s Street to see the lights switched on.
While everyone was waiting for Father Christmas, The Academy of Popular Music performed some much-loved Christmas songs, including White Christmas.
They were also joined on stage by members of the Cork Deaf Community Choir who signed a selection of Christmas songs using Irish sign language.
Just before 7pm, Santa made it to Patrick's Street, where he spoke to the crowds gathered.
“Cork is my favourite city,” he said.
“I love coming here every year. The boys and girls in Cork are the best in the world.”
People of all ages from Cork and around the world were out for the festivities, organised by Cork City Council.
Kat, from South Korea, was at the event with her three friends - all of whom are study abroad students in UCC.
“We don’t really celebrate Christmas, so we’re quite excited. It’s a whole new experience for us,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sandra Cosgrove from Blackpool brought her six-year-old daughter May to see the Christmas lights being switched on, but also to see her brother Seán perform on stage as part of The Academy of Popular Music.
Sandra told The Echo: “We came in early to get a spot so we could see him properly.”
May is hoping Santa will bring her a LOL doll.
“Hopefully he has enough in stock to cater for all the kids!” Sandra said.
Friends Robert, from South London, and Molly from Mallow, were also on Patrick Street for the event.
“We’re working in the Everyman panto this Christmas, so we’re here for rehearsals and decided to come in and see this. It’s really exciting,” Molly said.
Lawrence Owens, chief executive of the Cork Business Association, told The Echo that the switching on of the Christmas lights marks the start of the Christmas season in the city centre.
“The switching on of the Christmas lights switches on Christmas in the city and kick-starts the Christmas period,” he said.
Mr Owens also spoke about the importance of shopping in the city in the lead up to Christmas.
“I know people tend to shop with their pockets, but we’ve only got one city centre and we need to maintain that,” he said.
Well-known fishmonger at the English Market Pat O’Connell said the turning on of the lights has become a major family night, and retailers in the city centre also benefit.
“Over the last three or four years it’s become such an amazing event - it’s phenomenal. When you’re doing business in the city it’s about families.
"I think at the moment there’s just a really upbeat feeling to it. There’s so much development going on and I think tonight just adds to that fantastic feeling,” he said.
“Speaking to the restaurants, a lot of them were getting extra stock because the lights are a real family night for them. It’s just win-win for everybody.
“The lights they have just look amazing now. We have GLOW as well coming to Grand Parade.
"It’s lovely to see the council engaging and understanding the importance of these things for the city. The retailers, no doubt, will do their bit. Here’s hoping it’s going to be another incredible Christmas for Cork,” he added.