MORE than 20,000 people braved the winter chill and lined Glasgow's streets for the city's first Christmas parade.

Families gathered on the Style Mile yesterday afternoon as Santa's Express Train led a sparkling procession of characters through the city centre to celebrate the countdown to Christmas.

Santa led a spectacular fanfare of dolls, toy soldiers, elves, fairies, princesses and dancing Christmas trees from the steps outside the Royal Concert Hall.

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A host of superheroes including Iron Man, Darth Vader and other Star Wars characters, Hamley and Hattie Bear and Barbie joined Santa and his little helpers on the route. Scores of children, parents and grandparents enjoyed the two-hour parade, which began with a loop of the Style Mile before ending at the junction of Buchanan Street and Gordon Street.

The parade was part of the Glasgow Loves Christmas campaign, which highlights the city's shopping and includes a programme of festive events.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow city council, said: "This year's Christmas offering is shaping up to be the most exciting yet with an array of attractions and events for everyone against a sparkling festive backdrop.

"There really is no better place to enjoy this special time of year."

Former Stars in their Eyes winner Paul Thorpe brought his Elvis Tribute Act to Buchanan Street, and belted out some Elvis and festive classics.

Meanwhile, Bearsden band Willow Moon performed a medley of Christmas songs.

Fernando Viera, who has worked on performances across the world, including Cirque Du Soleil, directed the glitzy festive parade.

He said: "We wanted to give Glasgow something magical, something for the kids, the parents and the grandparents and something that is unique to the city."

Festive revellers can get their skates on in George Square from Saturday, when Glasgow on Ice opens. Hogmanayday will also return to George Square after the council axed its evening event last year.