THOUSANDS of children and families converged on Durham at the weekend for the biggest annual children's book festival in Europe.

The Northern Children's Book Festival's annual gala day, at County Hall, Durham, concluded two weeks of free events for children and families across the North-East.

Twelve local authorities from across the region brought the magic of books to children through the festival, which saw 39 authors and illustrators attend weekday events, reaching around 18,000 children.

Nine authors and illustrators were lined up for the free gala day on Saturday, including award-winning author Anne Fine, picture book writer Jez Alborough and Judith Kerr, who is celebrating 30 years of Mog the Cat.

The festival, which started in 1984, aimed to bring books alive for children