WISE man say....Christmas is under way in South Shields.
Three kings riding real-life camels were the stars of the show at the Christmas lights switch-on in Market Place earlier this evening.
Thousands of spectators packed into King Street to see the trio make their way to the ceremony opposite St Hilda’s Church.
And there was plenty more to get the crowds in the festive mood.
As well as the camels, the parade up King Street included stilt-walking shepherds, angels and stars, while entertainment came courtesy of local group Jen Stevens and the Hiccups and the choir from Harton Primary School.
Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham and Stella Matthewson, switched on a glittering display in St Hilda’s Church Gardens, which will remain in place throughout the festive period.
The St Hilda’s display features glowing polar bears, penguins, reindeers, icicle fountains, a Santa and sleigh as well as a traditional nativity scene.
Visitors will also be invited to ‘hug-a-tree’ set up with movement sensor twinkling lights.
Coun Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Culture and Leisure, said: “The Market Place with its historical Old Town Hall is the perfect backdrop for great music and creative lighting, as is St Hilda’s Church Gardens which has become a magical wonderland.”
Among those enjoying the sights and sounds were Colin and Rachel Sloan, from Whiteleas, who had brought four-year-old Elexis and baby Thea, just four weeks, along for the fun.
The couple come to the switch-on every year.
“It is excellent,” said Colin.
“It’s not often you get great free stuff like this.”
Rachel was struck by how well the camels looked.
“The camels were brilliant, they looked really healthy,” she said.
“We went on holiday last year and we had a camel ride – they didn’t look like that.
“It’s nice to see they are so well looked-after.”
Two of Santa’s reindeer will also be flying in to South Shields Market Square from the North Pole ahead of their big trip on Christmas Eve.
People can meet the reindeer today and on the next two Saturdays from 11am to 3pm.