THE build-up to Christmas starts in earnest on Saturday, when Santa Claus returns to Gateshead's MetroCentre.

The annual Yuletide parade will travel through the centre, before dropping Santa off at his grotto in the Garden Court, where he can be found up to Christmas Eve. Visits to see him are free and all children will receive a MetroGnome mug.

The parade begins at the customer services desk near House of Fraser, at 10am.

Along with Santa, there will be the MetroCentre's own MetroGnomes: Herbert; Sherbet; Maggot; and Rusty. They will be joined by other characters, including Montie and Maggy from Newcastle United Football Club and Merlin and Whimsey from The New MetroLand