More than 20,00 people flocked to Ulverston during the final weekend of November 2004, helping make the sixth annual Dickensian Christmas Festival a great success.

It was like stepping into a scene from a Dickens novel with smartly-dressed gentlemen and elegant ladies wearing period costumes walking the cobbled streets.

Against a background of festive carols and the smell of roasted chestnuts in the air the two-day festival, sponsored by the Evening Mail, was a big success.

Marking the start of Ulverston's Christmas season, the festival had entertainment galore, with everything from brass bands, choirs, a flea circus, street entertainment, Punch and Judy, street organs, steam railway and a fun fair.

It was estimated that well over 10,000 people attended on the Saturday. The huge crowd gathered to see the grand procession around the town.

Father Christmas appeared on a brewery horse-drawn dray and Bill Sikes and other Dickensian characters walked the streets.

There was a period dress competition with prizes for the best adults and children in costume and Ulverston mayor Cllr John Birkett switched on the Christmas tree lights in Market Place.

That was followed by the switching on of the tree lights in County Square during a service for St Mary's Hospice Celebrate A Life appeal, which raised about £20,000.

Ulverston town clerk Bill Penny voted the festival a great success.

He said: "It's been really good. The crowds have been huge."

Peter Winston, festival secretary, said "From all the comments I've had from traders I think we had a record crowd on Saturday.

"Looking at the weekend as a whole, we have had well over 20,000 visitors and it could well be approaching our record figure.

"It's certainly been a great weekend with a terrific atmosphere.

"People have certainly been getting into the spirit of the occasion. I've been very impressed with the number who came in period costume."

Visitors came from as far as America, China, France and Belgium and coaches came from all over the north of England.