A LARGER-than-life character and the sound of the Scottish Highlands were among the festive entertainment on offer in Bolton as the town centre’s Winter Wonderland was hailed a big success.

Santa’s biggest little helper, Brian the Elf, joined a bear and lion in Victoria Square as the trio entertained shoppers and helped visiting families soak up the festive feeling on Saturday.

Then the fledgling Bolton Caledonia Pipe Band made only their second public appearance on Sunday.

Brian — AKA Richard Thompson from Portsmouth — dons his stilts and travels all over the country in the role, but said that despite the five-hour drive, Bolton is one of his favourite destinations.

He said: “This is the second time they’ve had me back and I love it here.

“People want pictures all the time and the stall-holders are really friendly — they do look after you here.

“I go all over, but this is probably the second best after Brighton Pier.”

The Bolton Caledonia Pipe Band took to Victoria Square where they wowed visitors with traditional Scottish favourites. The band only formed a month ago following the amalgamation of the Bolton and District Pipe Band, which was 25 years old, and the Bolton Scottish band, which had existed for 40 years.

The band is made up of enthusiasts from Bolton as well as some exiled Scots pining for the sounds of home.

Pipe sergeant Jasmin Hyland said: “The reception has been good, people enjoy listening to all the familiar tunes.”

The band will be back this Sunday between 1pm and 3pm.

Bolton Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris said the ice rink had proved a big hit and traders were reporting good business.

He said: “We’re all getting into the Christmas spirit in Bolton and our Winter Wonderland has brought a touch of festive cheer to the town centre.

“We’ve arranged this festive programme to attract shoppers and support our town centre businesses and we’re really pleased with how it’s going so far.

“We’ve still got a few weeks left of our festive programme and I’d encourage everyone to visit Bolton town centre and make the most of it.”