THE weather played havoc with Salisbury’s Christmas lights switch-on event on Thursday.

Organisers were forced to scale back the event due to high winds and the forecast heavy rain, cancelling the fireworks display and using the Guildhall steps instead of setting up a stage and a big screen.

Some of the town’s lights were not switched on as people left the Market Place and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service had to be called in during the event to retrieve a set of lights that blew down in Blue Boar Row.

Although a flock of teenage girls were not put by the lack of fireworks or the weather as they turned up to catch a glimpse of X Factor boyband District 3, who switched on the lights with the help of Father Christmas.

Salisbury City Council’s business manager Claire Burden said the council had no choice but to scale down the event due to safety concerns and could not postpone it because work on setting up the city’s first Christmas market was scheduled to start in the Guildhall Square the following morning.

She said: “Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

“It was quite a different event to the usual, but we still had about 3,000 people there, which was a really good number, despite the weather.

“It was always going to be disappointing for those expecting fireworks but we did everything we could.”

Mayor John Collier said: “A whole year of planning was very suddenly turned upside down by the extreme weather correctly predicted and it would have been unsafe to set up the technical infrastructure required.

“Likewise, in the interests of safety, the firework element of the event also had to be cancelled due to the strong winds.

“The decision to scale back the event was not taken lightly.”

He said that next year’s event will be bigger and better than ever and urged people to support the Christmas market.