VIDEO: Hartlepool has the X-Mas Factor as hundreds attend festive lights switch-on

HARTLEPOOL’S festive spirit shone through when an X Factor star switched on the town’s Christmas lights.

X Factor finalist Abi Alton was in town last night to turn on the Church Square Christmas lights with Hartlepool Borough Council Ceremonial Mayor, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher.

X Factor star Abi Alton and Hartlepool Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher

X Factor star Abi Alton and Hartlepool Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher

The Guisborough-based songbird, who posed for photographs with young fans, told the Mail: “What a really good turnout. I wasn’t expecting so many people, it’s just terrific.”

Abi, who sang a version of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody, said she had visited the town before, as her uncle Darren Lee lives here, and she hopes to come back again to perform.

Town band The Jar Family warmed up the 1,000-strong crowd with a number of hits before Abi’s arrival.

Kate Williams and Paul White, from charity Red Dreams, also performed their charity Christmas Lullaby single, in aid of two-year-old cancer sufferer Bradley Lowery, from Blackhall.

The event was hosted by BBC Tees, in conjunction with Hartlepool Borough Council and compered by town favourite Paul “Goffy” Gough, and BBC Look North presenter Colin Briggs.

Church Square was also transformed into a winter wonderland, with more than a dozen wood cabins selling crafts and various goods, with one housing Santa Claus.

Christchurch Art Gallery also played a part with a special snowflake light display beamed onto the church tower.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “It was well-supported, with a good atmosphere.”