PEOPLE came out in their thousands to visit individually decorated beach huts for a special Christmas event.

Hove Beach Hut Association hosted its very first open day, seeing around 50 of the 459 huts on the seafront open their doors and get into the festive spirit.

Organisers gave no strict instructions to owners on how to decorate but each beach hut had its own unique look.

Sue Storey, a therapist at the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Brighton, chose a winter wonderland theme with dozens of tealights and messages of hope for the new year hanging from the ceiling.

The Argus: Sue's Winter Wonderland hutSue's Winter Wonderland hut

She said: "It's been really tough for our young people at work so I got them to write messages of hope for next year and whilst they were doing it they were getting something out of it as well.

"One says, 'Next year is going to be better than this year, just keep going' - so it's made them feel really included in it."

She said she really enjoyed the event and it had brought "the community together".

The Christmas huts stretched along the seafront from the Lagoon to the eastern huts near Grand Avenue, each one with its own crowd of visitors.

Paul and Margaret Windsor-Brown said the event was even more special this year due to the pandemic.

The Argus: Paul and Margaret Windsor-BrownPaul and Margaret Windsor-Brown

Their hut served mulled wine and mince pies to people walking by and was covered in festive lights, Paul joked that he could stay there until Christmas day.

Karen Peck was dressed as an elf with her friend in their Santa's grotto hut, she said it was a lovely evening.

The Argus: Karen Peck and her Santa's Grotto hutKaren Peck and her Santa's Grotto hut

Karen, a trustee of Brighton charity Fresh Start said: "I'm giving away cookies and drinks, but I found people actually want to donate money so I'm going to give the money to Fresh Start as well."

Caroline Matthews said: "I love owning a beach hut and it's a nice community event.

"It's a good feeling for everybody and it's Covid safe because it's outdoors - everyone can come an enjoy it."

Councillor Robert Nemeth helped organise the event, he said: "Our expectations have been met 100 fold, we weren't sure how many people would open and we ended up with more than we thought.

The Argus: Hove Beach Hut Association committee members - Secretary Peter Revell, Chairwoman Cathy Biggs and Founder Robert Nemeth. Photo: Cllr Robert NemethHove Beach Hut Association committee members - Secretary Peter Revell, Chairwoman Cathy Biggs and Founder Robert Nemeth. Photo: Cllr Robert Nemeth

"We must have seen a good two thousand people take part. I started at 459 and made our way down to number 1, we've seen so many unique themes.

"After the positive reaction today, I have no doubt that this will be something that continues for years to come."