A CHILDREN’S lantern parade through the centre of Durham formed the highlight of a traditional festive extravaganza at the weekend.

Hundreds of children and adults formed a procession from the Market Place up the cobbled streets to Durham Cathedral for the annual St Nicholas service on Saturday.

The parade was led by the Chester-le-Street Salvation Army Band and joined by Durham Mayor Councillor Katie Corrigan.

Colin Wilkes, managing director of Durham Markets Company, which organised the Christmas festival with Durham University said: “It was tremendously successful parade. It was bitterly cold but dry.

“We had about 250 lanterns in the parade with about 800 people altogether in the procession. This was followed by a 20-minute service, before everyone was treated to a fire juggling display outside.

“It is always a nice colourful way to start the festive season.”

The annual event, which is one of the busiest weekends for retail in the year, included a crafts and gifts marquee on Palace Green with more than 180 stalls and a food and producers’ market in the cloisters of Durham Cathedral.

On until Sunday, and there will be a host of activities and events in the city. There was also a static falconry display, story telling and a festive grotto with Father Christmas.

Durham Market Hall will also be open each day of the Christmas festival, including on Sunday, and there will be an additional festive market in the Market Place.

Mr Wilkes said: “It has been a fabulous weekend. We have been very lucky with the weather. What most people commented on was what a lovely atmosphere there was in Durham."

The marquee is will be open until 4.30pm on today (Sunday). Tickets cost £4. Today, it is free for carers.