CHILDREN in Weardale will be able to meet Father Christmas on Sunday, when an old lead mine is transformed into a fairyland grotto.

Father Christmas is moving his headquarters from Lapland for a day, to the North of England Lead Mining Museum, at Killhope.

Staff at the Durham County Council-run museum are transforming the mine and building a sleigh to transport youngsters to the winter wonderland.

The change means that children under five will be able to go into the mine for the first time.

Because of the darkness, visits are usually restricted to the over fives.

Julia Marshall, from the museum, said: "This is the first time we've done this, and it should be great fun for all the family and the staff too - especially those who are going to be dressed up.

"We are planning to make the sleigh ride good fun with surprises for the children and also deck it out with lights. It will take four children at a time to the mine, pulled by Santa's helpers."

The special Santa Down the Mine day will include a Christmas bazaar featuring local craft stalls, roast chestnuts, carol singers and children's workshops, where they can make cards and streamers. Mince pies and soup will be available.

Admission to the site will be free with a £3 charge to visit Father Christmas.