Grafton Street's iconic Christmas lights have been switched on following a ceremony on Thursday night.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the historic Bewley's Café on Thursday night to join in the countdown as children with the Little Blue Heroes non-profit switched on the lights to illuminate Dublin's shopping street for the festive season. 

The Grafton Street display includes 15 large chandelier crossovers stretching the full half-kilometer of the street and is the first of 25 Christmas lights displays to be switched on in the capital. 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The festive lights have been turned on on Dublin's Grafton Street. #VMNews

— Virgin Media News (@VirginMediaNews) November 16, 2023

Traders group Dublin Town, which has been decorating Dublin at Christmas for the last 15 years, has erected Christmas lights on a total of 25 streets in the capital for the holiday season in 2023, with all displays set to be switched on in the coming days. 

All Christmas lights are energy-efficient and will light up the streets of Dublin until January. 

Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin Town, said Thursday's event marked the beginning of Christmas for many people in Dublin. 

"What Dublin does well is Christmas," Guiney told the Irish Independent. 

"This marks the beginning of Christmas for a lot of people. It is also a really important time for traders. I think it’s going to be very busy for restaurants and shops." 

Guiney said up to 13 million people are expected to visit Dublin over the Christmas period. 

He added that the Christmas lights were erected by a team of 30 people who worked through the night over the course of four weeks to put up the lights on 25 different streets. 

Willow Mae Carroll, 7, and Cian Byrne, 10, of the Little Blue Heroes charity were on hand to switch on the lights on Thursday. 

The charity is voluntarily led by Garda members, retired Garda members, and members of the community and supports the families of children with serious illnesses. 

Founded in 2017, the charity has also been empowering the lives of young people through positive community engagement. 

Willow Mae Carroll, who was born with cerebral palsy, enjoyed the "amazing" experience of turning on the lights, according to her mother. 

"Coming to Bewley’s and turning the light is something every child wants to do. And for Willow to be able to do it this year is just amazing," Tracy Carroll told the Independent. 

Cian Byrne, who has a rare disease called Cri Du Chat syndrome and partial Down's syndrome, also enjoyed the experience, according to his mother Joanna Kennedy Byrne. 

"With Cian, it’s all about making memories… about enjoying life each day because nobody knows what tomorrow is going to bring."