FAMILIES are flocking to Clacton Pier to enjoy some early festive fun with Santa and his team.

The main man is being kept busy handing out presents and chatting with children who will be hoping that he will be visiting their home later in the month.

Mrs Claus and the elves are working hard in the kitchen preparing afternoon tea with Santa in Discovery Bay.

The whole North Pole experience – which includes a cosy purpose-built grotto, reindeers’ stables, and Frosty the Snowman – is proving a hit.

The Christmas extravaganza also involves a host of animatronic characters and sparkling decorations throughout the indoor area of the pier, while a selection of outdoor rides are open at weekends and in the school holidays.

Director Billy Ball said every effort has been made to ensure there is plenty of festive cheer for all ages to enjoy.

“The new grotto opened for the first time last winter and our visitors love it.

"This year we have introduced afternoon tea with Santa – to replace breakfast with Santa - which is also proving popular,” he said.

“It’s great to see the children’s faces light up when Frosty chats to them personally.

"It is a special time of year, and we hope families are making some happy memories with us.”

Children are also able to write a letter to Santa with a special post box on site to make sure he receives their list in time for the big day.

Rosie Purdy visited at the weekend with her daughters, Rosie and Lila, and Nanny Sharon Walsh.

“We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience; it is a really great grotto,” she said.

Clacton Pier’s Christmas experience continues until December 23.

A special cracker ride deal ends on January 3. Details of all the packages can be found at clactonpier.co.uk.