HUNDREDS of people lined the High Street yesterday to give Father Christmas a warm Worcester welcome.

The dull weather did not deter families in the least from turning out to meet Santa Claus and have their pictures taken with him.

Father Christmas arrived at the High Street in a classic Beauford vintage-style car and was quickly surrounded by parents and children eager to meet him.

Led by the Jazz Ramblers, playing seasonal tunes, Father Christmas and his entourage made their way slowly down the High Street, stopping every few yards to meet the public.

Youngsters of all ages posed for photos beside the red-clad figure, as the procession made its way from the High Street, down Broad Street and into the Crowngate shopping centre.

His destination was Friary Walk at CrownGate, where he was interviewed by Youthcomm Radio, and took up residence in his grotto for the first of his story sessions.

Warndon mum Stacey Martin, aged 24, said: "I come here with the children every year. They love it. It's a really good way to get into the spirit of Christmas."

As a special treat, two of Santa's reindeer also made an appearance, to the delight of youngsters who had the chance to feed them.

The event was organised by the CrownGate shopping centre, in association with Worcester Business Improvement District. Sarah Matthews of CrownGate said she was delighted with the response.

She said: "I think we attracted even more people than last year. The event is an important part of Worcester's festive season, and it really seems to bring people out."

Over the festive period, Father Christmas and his elves will be reading the story of The Nutcracker, on the hour, every hour on Thursdays from 10am to 6pm, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-4pm.