THOUSANDS of tiny lights flickered and danced in King Edward Park last night as the Hunter got into the spirit at the Newcastle Herald Carols By Candlelight.
The crowds got in early, marking their territory with picnic blankets and beach chairs in front of the main stage while thousands of others jostled for position up the sloping hill.
The promise of clear skies saw the numbers swell to more than 15,000 people, making the 27th year of the annual event one to remember.
Santa hats were replaced by the cowboy variety on stage as Newcastle country musician Bob Corbett and Golden Guitar winner Kirsty Akers performed some of their favourite Christmas Carols. As darkness crept in, and word spread in whispers that Santa Claus was on his way, thousands of tiny candles lit up the hillside.
Jasmine Dwarte, 23, and Zoe Hector, 28, of Newcastle, said the evening wasn’t exclusively for children and families.
‘‘Even if you don’t have kids you can come down and have a really good night,’’ Miss Dwarte said. ‘‘We brought a picnic down, had a few drinks, the weather was fine and it was free, you really can’t ask for more than that.’’
Police at the event said the crowds had been well behaved.