FATHER Christmas arrived for the festive season in fitting vintage style, at Beamish Museum at the weekend.

Santa Claus, aboard a sleigh pulled by a traction engine, headed a grand Christmas Parade at The Living Museum of the North, on Saturday.

From steam engines to sleighs, camels to classic cars, brass bands to buses and huskies to horse-drawn carriages, the fantastic festive procession signalled the start of the Christmas season, at the open-air heritage museum.

The parade, celebrating Beamish’s differing period attractions began at Pockerley Waggonway and ended at the Fairground, where Santa led the countdown to the Christmas tree lights switch-on.

He then took up residence in his grotto, at Pockerley Waggonway, where can be found each day until Christmas Eve.

Following her ‘other half’ in the parade was Mrs Claus, in her own husky-drawn sleigh.

Fire engines, camels, Beamish period vehicles, horse-drawn carriages, cars from the North of England Classic & Pre-War Automobiles Motoring Club, a miners’ banner and members of the Old 68th Durham Light Infantry Society re-enactment group also featured.

Members of The Friends of Beamish rode the vintage and classic cycles and motorcyles and drove their SOS bus, which featured in the recently launched Downton Abbey movie, filmed partly at the museum.

Christmas at Beamish runs from 10am to 4pm daily until December 24, with last admission at 3pm.

Festivities continue after Christmas with Beamish’s Twelfth Night Celebrations from December 27 to January 5, when visitors can enjoy traditional pantomime, music, dancing, food and first-footing.

The museum will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

More information is available via www.beamish.org.uk.