STUDENTS are once again opening welcoming arms of friendship to the local community on the run in to Christmas this year.

Following the success of last year’s event, community and student volunteers from Ustinov College, Durham University’s biggest student body, are inviting local residents to a special Festival of Light.

In conjunction with Nevilles Cross Community Association, the coming together of town and gown will take place at the college, at Sheraton Park, Nevilles Cross, on Friday December 6, at 3pm.

Visitors can meet Father Christmas, his trusty helper ‘Elvis’ the Reindeer, watch a puppet show or decorate a lantern, to the backdrop of the festive sounds of Durham Johnston School Brass.

Hot food will also be available and a Glow Mob will stage a festive dance act.

Festival-goers will then stage a lantern parade from the college, at 5.15pm, to nearby St John’s Church, for a short carol service, featuring Nevilles Cross Community Choir, starting at 6pm.

The event rounds off with hot drinks, mince pies and a further glow mob display.

Described as a celebration of the diversity of the local community, 600 people attended to last year’s event.