The Santa bus is visiting a number of areas across the city this week to ring in the festive season for families.

Families gathered at the kerbside to wave at Santa and his elves as they passed by last week, collecting donations for some 20 charities, such as Martlets.

The bus was launched at Palmeira Square in Hove on Friday. Dozens watched as the Christmas tree lights were switched on.

The Mayor of Brighton and Hove was joined by MP Peter Kyle and bus boss Ed Wills to launch the celebrations.

The Argus: Families waving at the busFamilies waving at the bus (Image: Terry Applin / Brighton and Hove Buses)

As the clock struck 4.39pm, glowing lights on the tree were switched on to cheers from the crowd below.

The bus then embarked on a tour of Goldstone and Downs Park to kick off its 20th year.

Read more: The Santa Bus returns on Friday – full list of dates and locationsThe Argus: Santa on board the busSanta on board the bus (Image: Terry Applin / Brighton and Hove Buses)

This week the bus will visit Woodingdean tonight, Hollingbury on Wednesday and Peacehaven on Thursday.

Some 10,000 twinkling lights cover the bus as it is set to travel down more than 200 streets in Brighton.

The launch at Palmeira Square started with carolling from schoolchildren in the nearby St John's Church.

Trisha Gaskell-Watkins, who helped organise the event, said: "We would like to thank the choir and teachers of Brunswick Primary School for the beautiful singing in St John the Baptists Church, Palmeira School.

"Thanks to the Rev Earl Collins for hosting the event. Many grateful thanks to Brighton and Hove City Council for supplying this magnificent tree and for their continuing support in this annual event.

"Grateful thanks to Brighton and Hove Buses for the Santa Bus which raises money for local causes and charities.

"The Mayor, parents and residents all enjoyed it immensely."