Wintertide lantern parade leads the way for a weekend of celebrations on Hartlepool Headland

Lanterns crafted by schoolchildren helped lead the way as this year's Wintertide celebrations were launched as darkness fell this evening.

Sixty pupils from St Bega’s and St Helen’s Primary Schools on the Headland led the march through St Hilda’s Church yard to the square, where Father Christmas turned on its festive lights.

A stag from puppeteer Greener Lavelle led the procession.

A stag from puppeteer Greener Lavelle led the procession.

For the first year, Greener Lavelle puppeteers joined Emma Wheetman and Rachel Laycock, co-directors at BloomInArt, and others from the Headland Festival Group to get involved, with its stag leading the procession, with a giant jellyfish at the rear, following on from the children's own versions of the sea creatures.

They were made back in September, with the children able to take them home at the close of the parade.

Rachel said: "People always turn out to support and line the parade walk, and this is our fourth year and it keeps getting better and better."

Puppeteer, designer, maker and illustrator Kim McDermottroe, of Greener Lavelle. was inside the stag as it joined in the parade.

Songs were sung as part of the launch event on the Headland.

Songs were sung as part of the launch event on the Headland.

"It was really nice to be involved this year, especially because we are based in Hartlepool.

"The kids had a great reaction to it and I heard one little girl say how realistic it looked."

This is the fourth Wintertide Festival, with a weekend of rides, workshops, artwork displays and performances lined up, with a series of information huts set up in the square alongside stalls selling treats.

The finale of the weekend will begin at 4.30pm on Sunday, with street performers from Handmade Parade and the Fire Girls to appear and Miss Toni's Choir to sing, with fireworks to be set off from Croft Gardens at 6pm.

Children from St Bega's and St Helen's Primary Schools made lanterns to parade with their siblings and members of their family.

Children from St Bega's and St Helen's Primary Schools made lanterns to parade with their siblings and members of their family.

The weekend will also be backed by the Northern School of Art's Green Lane Campus, Hartlepool College of Further Education and feature jellyfish first seen in Hartlepool Show as part of the artworks.

It has been funded by Arts Council England, the Tees Valley Community Fund, ward councillors and the Headland Hartlepool Parish Council, sponsored by the Thirteen Group, Pixelboy via its website and marketing, Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College.

For more details about the festival, visit wwww.wintertidefestuk.com and the event’s Facebook page.

St Hilda's Church has been lit up by Mick Stephenson for the weekend, while artist Diane Watson is also among those exhibiting as part of the festival.

St Hilda's Church has been lit up by Mick Stephenson for the weekend, while artist Diane Watson is also among those exhibiting as part of the festival.

Fairground rides are part of the Wintertide entertainment.

Fairground rides are part of the Wintertide entertainment.

Father Christmas switched on the lights at the launch of the Wintertide Festival.

Father Christmas switched on the lights at the launch of the Wintertide Festival.