IT HAS become a bit of a Brighton tradition.

The March of the Mermaids is now an annual event firmly stamped into the city’s calendar of summer spectacles.

Attracting hundreds of spectators, the long trail of sea creatures - with everything from mermaids and mermen and pirates as well as a few fishy figures - took to the seafront again on Saturday.

Now in its fifth year, around 400 people joined the procession along the promenade, dancing and swishing their mermaid tails all the way.

The party began at Hove Lawns and made its way past the i360 to the Fortune of War and the Tempest Inn where the celebrations continued into the night.

Inspired by the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in New York, Hannah Chilton launched the event to celebrate sea life and promote marine conservation.

The 29-year-old “chief mermaid” of Brighton, who plans the event in her spare time around a full time job working for Brighton Fringe, said: “Mermaids seem to be really popular at the moment and the glamour of it seems to appeal to a lot of people.

“It is great to see so many people involved and having fun, knowing that we are broadcasting a really serious message behind it all.

“We promote the work of marine conservation - particularly living on such a fantastic part of the country’s coastline we want to encourage people to look after the beaches and think about the damage that is being done to the sea and wildlife.”

Kirsty Neal, 48, of Saltdean, took part in the march with her daughter Charlie, 18, for the first time.

Kirsty put her background in theatrical costume design to good use to re-shape a green dress into a tail and decorated herself with a green wig, shells and glitter.

She said: “It took me a couple of hours to put together my costume - I butchered a dress and had to put it all together. I find out about the event online and thought it sounded really fun and was for a good cause.”

Charlie said: “I love mermaids and sea life and think it’s really cool and fun to dress up and take part. There is a great party atmosphere.”

Veteran marcher Neil Sillery, 42, of Brighton, put together his best Captain Jack Sparrow pirate outfit for this year’s event.

He said: “It always makes a really good spectacle and raises awareness. I chose this outfit because I have always felt I was a pirate since I was about four.

“It is another thing that makes Brighton the brilliant place it is.”

This year the march supported the Cornwall-based charity Surfers against Sewage and previously it has worked with WhaleFest and raised funds for the World Cetacean Alliance and the Marine Conservation Society.

The Pier 2 Pier beach clean group led a mermaid-themed litter pick before joining the march.

Amy Gibson, beach clean organiser, said: “This is such a great event so it is fantastic to be involved and we have a similar aim - to keep our beaches and seas clean.We run monthly beach cleans and the amount of litter and rubbish we pick up is horrendous - particularly the amount of plastic.

“Just before the march I picked up three bags of rubbish in 10 minutes.”