THE darkened streets of two villages were lit up for Christmas as more than 200 children took part in a lantern parade.

On Monday, the children, beating samba rhythms on their drums, paraded from the Booker Amateur Boxing Gym, in North Road, Catchgate, to the Phoenix Arts Centre at Harelaw, near Stanley.

After completing the parade, the children enjoyed hot soup, music and an ultra-violet light display created by local teenagers.

For the past two weeks, children aged from eight to 16 have been attending art workshops at the centre in samba drumming, singing, lantern-making and painting to prepare for the Nightlights event, organised by Busy Ape Arts.

It was designed to bring people together at Christmas and promote a feeling of safety through Derwentside.

Busy Ape Arts company manager Abi Barker said: "The parade took place at a time of year when many people feel very vulnerable, due to dark nights setting in and local crime levels increasing.

"We think the parade helps young people and adults understand each other better - helping everyone to feel safer and giving young people a high-profile platform to prove their ability to contribute to regeneration. The arts are a perfect tool for this.

"We hope this project will become a living tradition."