Hundreds of youngsters take part in lantern procession through town centre

HUNDREDS of pupils took part in a procession through Whitley Bay to mark the start of the town’s annual St Nicholas Festival on Friday.

Students from Whitley Lodge, Star of the Sea, Marine Park and Rockcliffe first schools joined older pupils from Wallsend’s Churchill Community College for the lantern parade along Park Avenue to St Paul’s Church, where they gathered for carol singing and the traditional calling of St Nicholas.

The festival also saw stallholders and farmers sell a range of home-made produce, gifts, food and more in the town centre last Friday and Saturday.

A Christmas market held at the Spanish City Dome on Sunday to follow on from the festival attracted a turnout of more than 2,100.

Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade chairman Karen Goldfinch, said: “The aim of the fair was to highlight and promote the variety of businesses we’re lucky to have in Whitley Bay.

“We’re so pleased so many people came out to see this event.

“It was great to see the queues on the seafront, and getting the thousands that came in was quite an achievement for our first fair of this type.”

The event was opened by North Tyneside mayor Linda Arkley.

Elsewhere, Tynemouth’s first-ever Christmas Fair attracted around 2,500 visitors.

Tynemouth Business Forum chairman John Keddy said: “There was a great vibe in Tynemouth all day, and it was lovely to see such a lot of people.”