Santa lands in Norfolk at Wells ChristmasTide

Scenes from Well Christmas Tide as Father Christmas arrives at the quay. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Scenes from Well Christmas Tide as Father Christmas arrives at the quay. Picture: Matthew Usher.

With rain and gales forecast, it looked like being more a case of Santa pours than Claus.

Scenes from Well Christmas Tide as Father Christmas arrives at the quay. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Scenes from Well Christmas Tide as Father Christmas arrives at the quay. Picture: Matthew Usher.

But the weather brought an early Christmas present, as the winds dropped and a unique festive celebration got under way.

Wells is believed to be the only town in the UK where the man himself arrives by boat. Crowds lined the quay to welcome him ashore.

'It's about the 10th year we've done this so we're getting used to it,' said harbour master Bob Smith. 'It's been more difficult because of the challenges the weather's given us but people will still turn out.

'People come from all over the country for it. It's one of the biggest events in the Wells calendar. Wells is the only place where Father Christmas comes in by sea.'

After carols led by the Coastal Chorale, Mr Smith led chants of 'we want Santa'.

'There's a lady here from Melton Mowbray, she's asking which way does Santa come from,' he said. 'He comes from the North Pole - there's nothing between Wells and the North Pole.'

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A beacon was set ablaze to show Santa the way, as a lantern procession and Norwich Samba set off from the Buttlands for the quay.

A magnesium flare lit up the sky as the parade arrived. Then a vessel decked in lights hove into view, carrying a man with a large sack of presents and a posse of dancing penguins. Fireworks erupted overhead as Santa hopped onto the mooring pontoon.

'Hello again Wells, it's lovely to see you again,' he said. 'Thank you so much for waiting. It's been lovely out there on the foamy, briny waves.'

Santa was mobbed by young and not so young fans as he made his way through the crowds along the quay, followed by the penguins and samba band.

'It's been absolutely fantastic,' said Mel Catton, one of the organisers of the Wells ChristmasTide. 'When you fill the quay with people and see so many children enjoying themselves, it's just phenomenal.'