Families turn out in force for the annual arrival of santa and his panto chums at St John’s Garden Centre.

CROWDS gathered outside St John’s Garden Centre in Barnstaple on Friday for the arrival of Santa plus a variety of characters from the Queen’s Theatre pantomime Snow White.

Perched atop a sleigh driven by Jonathan Waterer and drawn by his shire horses, the jolly red gent was greeted by cheers from the many families there to meet him.

Also with him on the sleigh were Snow White, played by Kirsty McCallum plus everyone’s favourite Muddles, aka Mark Reeves.

Santa soon disappeared into his grotto at the garden centre’s Winter Wonderland, where he will be found during weekends in December as well as all week in the run up to Christmas.

The panto cast were not shy and soon mingled with their fans, who could also enjoy a variety of activities, including fair ground rides, the chance to hug a husky, face painting plus plenty of festive treats and offers.

There was also a new display for the St John’s Santa Band, set up each year to raise money for charity. This year’s charity Shelterbox has inspired a “desert island” theme.

For full Santa’s Grotto opening times, go to www.stjohnsgardencentre.co.uk.

See more pictures online at www.northdevongazette.co.uk.