POOLE well and truly got into the festive spirit at the weekend.

Bumper crowds packed the town’s quayside to welcome Father Christmas on Sunday.

As in previous years, Santa arrived by boat - waving to the hundreds of excited youngsters eager to catch a glimpse of him.

Santa was brought ashore by City Cruises, before leading a colourful procession of more than 1,000 children and parents through the town centre to Falkland Square, where Poole’s Christmas tree lights were switched on earlier in the week.

Visitor Chloe Sanderson told the Echo: “I love this tradition in Poole, it should keep on going forever.

“So many people are here just enjoying the occasion, it really puts you in the Christmas mood.

Meanwhile, Judy Reed, from Poole, said: “We always bring the kids along, it sort of signals the start of Christmas for me.”

The parade was just the latest in a series of Christmas celebrations in Poole - on Saturday Poole BID put on a full day of children’s entertainment including face painting, games, activities and magic shows.

Poole BID manager Justin Hundley-Appleton said: “It was great to see so many people taking part in this year’s parade, despite the chilly weather.

“We hope that it has helped to kick-start the festive feeling, as well as showcase what Poole High Street has to offer.

“We hope that people will be able to come out and enjoy our pop-up cinema during the rest of the month while doing their late-night shopping and try out some of our varied local restaurants.”

Poole BID will also be hosting a series of Christmas movie nights on Thursdays throughout December with family favourites such as The Muppet Christmas Carol, Santa Clause the Movie, The Polar Express, and Happy Feet.

Showings take place outside Sainsbury’s at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

Parking for late night shopping is now free in all Borough of Poole car parks in the town centre on Thursdays, 6-9pm, and on Sundays 10am-6pm.

Morebus is also running a free park and ride service between Creekmoor park and ride and the Dolphin Shopping Centre every 15 minutes, 8am-6pm.