Families across the North East braved the winter chill to celebrate the start of the festive season.
Hundreds of people turned out to watch as their towns where lit up at a number of Christmas light switch on events that took place last night.
The annual ceremony to officially welcome the 40ft Norwegian tree donated to Newcastle City Council from twin city Bergen in Norway attracted large crowds.
The Mayor of Bergen, Trude H Drevland, was invited to switch on the tree’s lights by Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Coun Margaret Wood.
Mayor Drevland said: “It’s an honour and a pleasure for me to be here once again. This is, for me coming from Bergen to Newcastle, the warmest beginning to Christmas I can think of.
“I’m very proud to be here delivering your Christmas tree.”
The North East Music Co-operative provided the music for the night as everyone enjoyed a sing-along to some favourite Christmas carols before the 40ft tree was illuminated with hundreds of traditional Norwegian white lights.
This marks the 65th year the people of Bergen, Newcastle’s twin city, have given the people of Newcastle a Christmas tree as a symbol of peace and goodwill.
Meanwhile in Northumberland Paralympian Stephen Miller was joined by rugby stars from the Newcastle Falcons to switch on the lights in Cramlington’s town square outside Concordia Leisure Centre before heading into Manor Walks Shopping Centre where the festivities continued.
The event, organised in collaboration with Manor Walks, Cramlington Town Council and Blyth Valley Arts & Leisure, offered youngsters the chance to meet Santa and his live reindeers at their stables in Sainsbury’s car park.
The Woodhorn lantern parade further lit up Cramlington with an enchanting glow and choirs from Eastlea Primary School and St Paul’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided First School and Northburn Primary School’s Steel Pan Band provided the musical backing track for the night.
Meanwhile, Trinity Square in Gateshead made sure its first-ever Christmas lights switch on was one to remember with Metro Radio’s Steve and Karen at the helm entertaining the crowds before Mayor of Gateshead, Coun Jack Graham, did he honours.
He said: “Trinity Square has transformed the centre of Gateshead and it’s proving hugely popular with shoppers.
“It’s a real honour to be turning on the Christmas lights for the first time here. I hope that they’ll brighten up the day for the thousands of shoppers who will be flocking here over the coming weeks.”
Music was provided by Northumbria University choir and brass band who performed some Christmas classics.
Shoppers were also encouraged to pick up new and unwrapped toys to donate to Cash for Kids Mission Christmas which will be handed out to underprivileged children across the region this festive season.