FESTIVE cheer well and truly began for communities at the weekend.

Residents in Whitchurch and Overton both saw their high streets light up with Christmas markets for all to enjoy on Saturday.

In Overton, the festivities centred in the village centre where stallholders showcased jewellery, arts and crafts for Christmas shoppers going present hunting and nearly 200 children saw Father Christmas who gave them each a wooden Christmas decoration handmade by Men in Sheds Laverstoke.

Martin Fielder, from Overton Business Association, said: “Numerous visitors said it was a great start to their Christmas and were entertained by all the Overton Churches choir, a jazz band, a folk group and Overton Choral Society.

“But none of this would have happened without the Overton Business Association who run the event, Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club who supply the elves and a host of other volunteers who gave up their time make sure the event was a success.”

"This is only the start, Overton is Open throughout the Christmas period with free parking and shops you will not find anywhere else together with food and drink that will make you want to come back time and again."

Whitchurch had a jam-packed day of events throughout the whole town with activities at the Silk Mill, parish hall, Testbourne School’s Christmas fair, a lantern procession and the town lights switch-on to name a few.

Whitchurch town mayor Councillor John Buckley said: “The launch of Christmas in Whitchurch was a fantastic event with gift fairs, family activities and community involvement, all culminating with the colourful lantern procession and lights switch on.

"The volunteers and businesses and residents who make this all possible are more than commended in creating a terrific day for the town and its community spirit.”

Whitchurch Silk Mill which hosted a number of activities across the day including latern making and the parade ahead of the town's lights switch on.

Zoë Umpleby, activity coordinator at Whitchurch Silk Mill added: "We had great fun making lanterns for the annual parade. 

"There were some amazing creations including an angel, heron and also a Silk Mill lantern!

"There was a fantastic turn out at the Mill with lots of families joining in the parade, and lighting up the town."