IT was chocs away for Durham shops staff who got into the festive spirit and donned fancy dress for the city's Christmas Festival.

Staff at about 20 stores in the city centre came to work in costume at the weekend as thousands of shoppers flooded in for the fourth annual festival.

Six employees of the Goldsmiths jewellery shop, in the Prince Bishops Shopping Centre, dressed as elves.

Their effort was voted the most eye-catching by the judge, Durham Mayor George Wharton.

Yesterday, the centre's manager, Richard Toynbee, gave them chocolates from Durham City Forum, organisers of the festival, and a bottle of champagne from the centre's management team.

The winner of the competition for market traders was Paul Robson, of Pilmore Health Foods and Remedies.

Shopper Debbie Mollen, of Sherburn Village, won the champagne draw for guessing that Goldsmiths would be the best-dressed store winner.