A GIANT pendulum wave machine and a bizarre musical instrument called a Lumiphonica created a surreal second night of Oxford Christmas Light Festival at the Castle Quarter.

A host of magical characters and the Guerilla Dance Project entertained hundreds of visitors to the historic district last night.

The evening's events were the second day of this year's Christmas lights festival.

The celebrations opened on Friday night with hundreds of people taking part in the lantern parade through the city streets.

The theme for this year was 'the world in Oxford' with handmade floats, including the golden compass from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series and the hot air balloon from Around the World in 80 Days, taking pride of place alongside several brass bands.

Leaving from the Castle Quarter, the 400-strong parade marched down Queen Street before looping back around via Cornmarket Street and through the new Westgate Centre, finishing back at the castle.

Artist Paul Batten has been running workshops for schools and community groups to create the lanterns and floats in preparation for the big day.

The puppet maker, who runs the Theatrix production company, spent much of the parade dressed in a long yellow coat inside the basket of the hot air balloon.

He said: "It was quite tough to walk in, if it sways a little in one direction you can become unbalanced so I needed my small army of helpers to keep me upright.

"It's been so lovely and brilliant to see it all come together."

Pupils from Bayards Hill Primary School in Headington were among those taking part and the school's chair of governors, Maurice East, felt it was a great way of bringing all the schools in the area together 'with a common purpose.'

He said: "All the children have been working so hard, it's been a team effort which has really paid off with this fantastic parade.

"They absolutely love being able to march through the streets at night.

"It allows everyone to see what they are capable of doing."

Lynn Knapp, the headteacher at Windmill Primary in Headington, felt the parade 'shows what education should be about'.

"They get so much out of it - coming out and being part of creating something the whole city can enjoy and show off everything they have made" she said.

Dad David Gautrey was among those helping to steward students at his son Luca's school, Wolvercote Primary.

"None of them thought it would be anything like this, they are so delighted" the business owner said.

"The children have been challenged to use their imagination in an unusual way and it's great for them to see the end result come alive on the streets.

"It is not often you make something and thousands of people come out to see it."

The parade marked the start of the three day Christmas Light Festival which continues all weekend.

Light installations have been set up in the Castle Quarter, Bonn Square and the Westgate Centre.

There are also a number of performances from choirs, a shadow theatre company and hula hoopers planned.

As many as 100,000 people are expected to attend.