THOUSANDS of onlookers swarmed the streets as Horwich proved to be the place to be this weekend for two flagship events.

Families flocked to the Horwich Carnival, which began on Friday, before a new and improved parade made its way through the streets yesterday.

It also coincided with an action-packed “long weekend” of sport, as cyclists, swimmers, runners and unicyclists competed in the annual Horwich Festival of Racing, staged from Wednesday to Sunday.

Yesterday, onlookers lined the streets as the carnival parade made its way through the town centre – where racing paused at noon to allow the spectacle to proceed.

The carnival also saw Nick Pickard, who plays Hollyoaks’ Tony Hutchin-son, came along to sign autographs as a guest of honour.

He said: “The atmosphere is brilliant and everyone has come out to support the carnival. I am having a great time and everyone has been so welcoming.”

Another Hollyoaks star was in town as heartthrob Ashley Taylor Dawson, who plays Darren Osborne, signed programmes in Old Station Park on Saturday.

The park also hosted a bonnie baby competition, dog show, modelling contest, performance from Bolton Majorettes, stalls and a funfair.

Sunday’s parade, led by the Bolton Caledonia Pipe Band, featured floats of carnival royalty, Morris Dancers, cheerleaders and classic cars.

The Grupo Sambafrica batala band and samba dancers also brought a touch of African flair.

Sporting events included the national unicycle road race and the festival’s first adapted cycle race, for people who struggle with normal bicycles.