A MASS of shoppers were transfixed by fireworks, pyrotechnics, snow machines and the biggest and best Christmas tree around as the festive season arrived in style at Liverpool One last night.

As a journalist for 16 years and a dad-of-three Christmas-obsessed kids, I have been to lights switch-on events all over the north west.

But I have never seen any of the scale and quality of last night’s extravaganza – with all the special effects, it was like being part of Hollywood’s latest big-budget festive flick.

With fireworks and giant party-poppers set off from buildings all along Paradise Street as Christmas characters merrily danced in anticipation of Santa’s arrival and the iconic 30-metre tree delivering a mesmerising lights show, the only problem was not knowing where to look.

Santa ended up crashing on John Lewis’ roof before emerging on stage for the grand finale.

With the department store chain’s latest Christmas advert receiving mixed reviews, the company should have saved itself a lot of money by simply filming the lights switch-on show and releasing that instead.

Thousands upon thousands of people turned out to watch, making it rather cramped on Paradise Street.

But other than being uncomfortably close to the people around us during the main event, my family and I had a fantastic day in Liverpool and left full of Christmas spirit.

There were a range of festive street performances to enjoy, including snippets from pantos taking place in the city this year, as well as the usual children’s rides and delicious festive food stalls at the winter wonderland that Chavasse Park is turned into at this time of year.

We revelled in belting out the Christmas classics in one of the ‘carol-oke’ booths as we supped hot chocolates at the warming Bar Hutte inside the tree, and we had one of the best meals of our lives at Viva Brazil, a real treasure trove for meat lovers.

As fans of The Fab Four, we had earlier taken a magical mystery tour of The Beatles Story Experience at the Albert Dock – worth every penny – and spent far too much money buying Christmas presents in the shopper’s paradise that Liverpool One is.

Enjoying Christmas in Liverpool town centre does not come cheap, though we did find some great bargains in the shops.

But when it comes to getting in the festive spirit there are few better places to go, particularly in the north west.

No wonder the festive season in Liverpool was launched with the hashtag GetChristmassy.