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Christmas cheer lights up CAPITAL

THE Christmas festival began in earnest last night as delighted shoppers watched the official switch-on of the lights on Grafton Street.

The X Factor's Melanie McCabe flicked the switch of the twinkling festive chandeliers.

And she was assisted by members of the winning All Ireland Dublin football team, the Hallelujah gospel choir and the Gaiety panto cast.

The illuminations were first switched on outside the Stephen's Green Centre, quickly followed by decorations in South William Street and the Powerscourt Townhouse centre.

Meanwhile, a host of face painters and stilt walkers entertained the crowds who had gathered for the magical ceremony.

Illuminations in O'Connell Street and Henry Street will be lit next week.

The Grafton Street lights were designed by the same team that made the lights for the Eiffel Tower in Paris and use energy efficient bulbs.