A TRAIL of stunning ice sculptures made a frosty return to the streets of York on Saturday, and the event has been hailed a "huge success."

Myths and Legends was the theme of this year's York Ice Trail, which celebrated Chinese New Year with traditional Chinese dancing this afternoon.

There were 50 giant sculptures scattered across the city as part of the biggest outdoor ice trail in the UK, with a new ice carving wall in Parliament Street, which proved popular with children.

Thousands of people descended on the city centre to visit the trail, which returned for a fourth year.

Visitors and residents could follow the trail to find the sculptures across the city centre and surrounding streets.

Paul Whiting, head of Visit York, said: “People turned out in their thousands to see the trail. It’s been brilliant to see so many families and visitors from across the UK enjoying the sculptures.

"Our ice carvers really did us proud and the cold spell was an added bonus! We’re delighted the event has been such a huge success and want to thank York’s businesses for helping us to make it happen."

Mat Foster, creative director at Glacial Art, the company behind the sculptures, added: "It was great to do it in February. We are never really sure how many people are out for the ice trail and how many are out for Christmas shopping when it's held in December.

"I think if anything it was busier than previous years. There were literally queues of people waiting to take pictures of the sculptures."

Gareth Evans, who lives in York, enjoyed the event with his daughter Abigail.

He said: "I think it's brilliant, we've really enjoyed it.

"It's the first time I've been to the trail.

"It's great for the kids to be able to get involved. My daughter loves arts and crafts.

"The sculptures are fantastic."

Among the creations were sculptures of William Shakespeare, a Millennium Falcon, a dragon's head and a Cheshire Cat.

From noon, live carving took place in St Helen's Square, where a phoenix was cut from a block of ice and later set on fire.

New events this year included interactive sculptures in Parliament Street - where visitors could 'have a go' - and a three-metre shuffleboard game, where visitors could win prizes.

Other challenges gave visitors the chance to win York Passes, tickets for the Everyman cinema and chocolate bars.

There was a hero camp at Middleton’s Hotel, on Skeldergate, complete with a fire pit, ice sculptures and Thwaite’s horse and cart made an appearance too. Children dressing up for the event as their favourite hero received a free mini hot chocolate.

Ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations, a Leeds-based dance troupe brought dancing, music and colour to the event with a spectacular performance in St Helen’s Square. The Lion Dance troupe has four key members: the lion’s head, lion’s tail, a drum and gong player.