RENOWNED for being ferocious fire-breathers, dragons would typically be the last mythical creature you would want roaming around a a busy shopping centre.

However, Bolton Market Place was paid a visit by a decidedly friendlier beast this weekend as a fun-loving animatronic dragon was set loose for some Easter fun.

The three-metre long behemoth, which talked and breathed real smoke, could be spotted roving the aisles and atriums of the centre, accompanied by his two companions and handlers, throughout Saturday.

Curious shoppers could stop to say hello to the dragon as well as pet and take selfies with him.

Youngsters could also become their favourite characters and superheroes with free facepainting for across the weekend.

The fun, family event was set up by Market Place bosses to give parents a helping hand during the Easter holiday. Nikki Wilson-Cook, centre manager at Bolton Market Place, said: “When you’ve got the Easter holidays, kids need something to do, so we always like to give people something a bit different that’s family-oriented. We’ve had dinosaurs, we’ve had other animatronics, we’ve had robots. We just thought a dragon would be a bit different.”