THOUSANDS of people were on hand to watch Father Christmas arrive in Northallerton yesterday.

The big man in the red suit paraded down the high street on his sleigh before going into his grotto in the lower part of the town hall, which had been transformed into a winter wonderland.

The Northern Echo:

He was accompanied on parade by the band of the Royal British Legion from Thirsk, for Northallerton's Santa Sunday event.

The three wise men also arrived on camels and delighted the crowds who turned out for the special Christmas event.

Organisers estimated that there were crowds of between 2,000 and 3,000.

Mayor John Forrest said: "The weather was kind to us. Santa arrived at midday and he was still here hours later. The camels paraded up and down the High Street a couple of times and we have had a grand day."

The Northern Echo:

There was live entertainment from a rock choir and a disco, as well as Christmas carols, a pop-up nativity, fairground rides, a puppet show and a Christmas market.

Northallerton this year has a real festive tree after being roundly criticised last year for its artificial cone-effect tree - dubbed 'Britain's worst Christmas tree' by the national press.

This year the town has a real, 22-ft tree in a purpose-built pit in front of the town hall, funded by Northallerton's Business Improvement District (BID), the district council and the town council. The tree is due to be decorated this week.