YOU know that Christmas is near when Santa and his reindeer arrive in The Malls.

The animals had travelled all the way from Cairngorm in Scotland to Basingstoke, where they took part in an annual festive parade before meeting shoppers in The Malls.

Hamish and Oreo pulled Santa on his sleigh followed by the rest of the herd and various characters including a snowman, men on stilts and a Christmas tree, who were raising funds for Shopmobility Basingstoke.

Brownies from 11th St Michael’s pack also took part in the festivities, providing singing entertainment throughout the day.

Fiona Smith, who accompanied the reindeer, said: “We have 150 reindeer that live naturally in the mountains.”

The Cairngorm reindeer are Britain’s only herd, and are found free ranging in the Scottish highlands, where visitors can go and see the herd.

Miss Smith said: “They are domesticated, and working with humans comes second nature. We are a tourist destination so they are used to being among people.”

Children wrote letters to Father Christmas which they were able to give directly to him at the event, while Christmas tunes pumped out to get everyone in the festive spirit.

Sue Harris, property assistant at The Malls, said: “It’s a traditional family day.”