PUB landlords across the region are rubbing their hands in anticipation of a "craicing" St Patrick's Day.

At Durham City's O'Neill's pub, Irish sisters Elaine and Michelle Cupples are gearing up for what is traditionally the biggest night of the year, tonight.

The pair, from near Belfast, are ready for face painting, drinking and silly hat wearing.

Elaine said: "We'll have other things going on - face painting, Guinness T-shirts and inflatable hats - but everyone will be there for the craic."

It's not just beer bellies that are swelling during the celebrations - O'Neill's customers will also help the national pub chain pile on the pounds for a childrens' charity.

Staff are collecting donations for The Children's Society, which helps to look after vulnerable children and young people.

Other St Patrick's Day events include an evening of Irish music at the National Glass Centre, in Sunderland. It starts at 7.30pm, with music by Comhaltos Ceoltoiri Eireann and jigging by the Fagan School of Dance.

Tickets are available from the Children's Hope Foundation, William Street, Gateshead, or from the centre, at £20 per person.

All money raised goes to the foundation.