PANTOMIME dames, the Fairy Godmother and Santa Claus himself have helped light up a market town in time for Christmas.

Hundreds of people of all ages gathered to see Barnard Castle’s Christmas tree lights switched on in the town centre on Friday night, with the town council pulling out all the stops to make it a magical experience.

Onlookers were treated to a short pantomime starring town councillors John Blissett and Mark Wilkes as the ugly sisters, who were both determined to have the honour of pushing the button.

However, after some hilarious antics, it was Santa Claus who lit up the tree, with the help of youngsters Annabell Jackson, five, and Rupert Lewis, three, from the audience.

Nearby Scar Top was also illuminated with twinkling lights, while a snow machine and Santa’s reindeer added to the festive atmosphere.

Councillor Sandra Moorhouse, the Mayor of Barnard Castle, took on the role of the Fairy Godmother at the popular annual event.

She said: “It was really good fun and there was such a magical atmosphere. It was lovely to see so many families there having a nice time together. There was such a long queue to see Santa afterwards.”