CLACTON Pier’s new North Pole experience got underway at the weekend and proved a big hit with customers.

A steady flow of families visited Santa’s grotto, the Reindeer’s stables, and Frosty the Snowman in a specially created and themed section of the landmark attraction.

A host of animatronic characters and sparkling decorations throughout the indoor area create a magical festive feel for all ages to enjoy.

A selection of outdoor rides is also operating for the first time during winter as part of a Christmas Cracker deal.

Pier director Billy Ball said he is delighted with the feedback from families.

“It is taking time for people to venture out after lockdown, but we got off to a really solid start to the festive season,” he said.

“We know that the numbers pick up the nearer we get to Christmas and the main thing is that people were really impressed with what we have put on this year.”

Mr Ball praised families for following the social distancing measures put in place to make it a safe environment for customers and staff.

“We have done what we can in terms of Covid and it all works if people stick to the rules,” he added.

Santa’s grotto is open until December 24 as part of its £19.99 cracker deal, which includes unlimited selected rides, golf, video games, seaquarium and a drink, operating at weekends and in the school holiday until January 3.

“It is great to be back open and hopefully we can provide some Christmas cheer for families who have had a tough year,” said Mr Ball.