HUNDREDS of people packed the streets of Bradford city centre on Sunday morning for the annual Reindeer Parade.

The event marks the start of the festive season at The Kirkgate Centre.

Santa and his real live reindeer toured around Bradford followed by crowds before Santa takes up residence in his grotto at the Kirkgate Shopping Centre until Christmas Eve.

Children could get a close-up look at the reindeer in their pen on Kirkgate for an hour after the event.

The parade was led by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue band and riding with Father Christmas were the winners of a colouring-in competition at the Kirkgate Centre.

Luckily for those watching, overnight rain stopped.

For the first time this year there was a protest by about a dozen animal rights protesters. They handed out leaflets and held up placards calling on animals not to be used in future.

Organiser Gail Barraclough said: “The White Rose Centre and others have stopped using live animals in events. It is so unnecessary. Reindeer are really shy and don’t deserve it.”

She said members of the public had been really polite and taken leaflets as she and her team explained how they thought the reindeer - of which six from the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre were involved in the event - should not be used.

“Unless questioned, people will carry on,” she added. “People aren’t aware of the issues.

“Exploiting animals is not OK.”