BOLTON’S big Christmas lights switch-on is just three days away.

TV presenter Paddy McGuinness, who was born in Farnworth and attended Mount St Joseph school, will be doing the honours on Thursday night in Victoria Square.

The Christmas lights switch on will start at 5pm with Paddy counting down to the big switch-on at 7pm.

Families attending the festive event will be able to take advantage of free parking in the town centre.

Thousands of car parking spaces will be free after 3pm each weekday, from Thursday.

The offer applies to people using the multi-storey car parks at the Octagon, Deane Road and Topp Way and will run until Friday, January 5.

The town centre will be lit up with lanterns of all shapes and sizes — including a 15ft elephant —at Thursday's Christmas lights switch-on.

Community groups have made 35 lanterns at workshops, led by Bolton Cultural Partnership, and 30 have been made by Bolton at Home — in the shape of hearts, stars, buildings and animals.

A further 25 giant lanterns, which have been acquired from New Mills lantern festival, including the massive elephant — the symbol of Bolton.

The lanterns will be carried by volunteers along the parade route, finishing in Victoria Square for the lights switch-on.

One parade featuring Santa, Mrs Claus, the Mayor and Mayoress in their sleigh will travel from Churchgate down Deansgate and will then meet with a second parade, which starts from Debenhams in the Market Place.

The two parades will then continue down Deansgate and into Victoria Square for 6.45pm.

See on Thursday for a live blog of all the festivities.