MINEHEAD had a Christmas Festival to remember with thousands of people enjoying two days of festive activities around the town.

Last year the town suffered from having a low-key event, but over the past year a hardy team of committed volunteers have banded together to organise this year's spectacular triumph which is thought to have drawn in around 5,000 people to the town centre.

The festivities, organised by volunteer group Gateway Events, started on Friday night with magical stilt-walker Jack Frost leading the lantern parade through the town centre.

The crowds gathered outside Minehead Old Hospital ready for Santa to switch on the lights, only for him to be pipped to the plunger by The Stig from Top Gear, the event's surprise special guest.

Once the lights were on the festive cheer continued with performances by Minehead Male Voice Choir, Watchet Town Band, the Fusion soloists and fire juggler Simon Chainey.

On Saturday rain failed to dampen the Christmas spirit as the Avenue was once again packed with people and entertainment.

Stilt jumper Simeon Kiola, put on an acrobatic display filled with daredevil stunts, while the 'Magical Mystery Bubble Bike' proved popular, as did Rory the T-Rex.

Minehead's very own Hobby Horse joined in the festivities, and there was entertainment throughout the day courtesy of balloon modellers, face painters, circus skills, puppeteers, LA Dancers, the Maybeat band, Minehead Eye's scooter limbo and the West Somerset Railway Christmas Fair.

Inside the Old Hospital, the immensely popular Winter Wonderland of Santa’s Grotto was a complete sell out which saw Santa and his merry elves handing out hundreds of gifts to joyful children.

A spokesman for Gateway Events said: "All in all the event has now become a wonderful vibrant memory for many holidaymakers to take home with them and for them to tell their friends and family what a great place Minehead is to visit in winter as well as in summer.

"Remarks made by numerous shopkeepers and café owners carried a common thread – visitor numbers far exceeded best expectations and decades of past Christmas Festivals.

"Gateway Events would like to give a huge thank you to Minehead Town Council and BID for their sponsorship without which the event would have been far less ambitious.

"Thank you also to Minehead Connect for facilitating the event, to West Somerset Radio, to the group of volunteers who put in so much time and effort to put together an amazing event, and finally to the people of Minehead for giving the festival a chance."