RAYMOND Briggs’ much-loved classic The Snowman flies into Hampshire to melt the hearts of Southampton audiences next week.

Celebrating 20 years on the stage, the live version of the children’s favourite opens at the Mayflower Theatre on Tuesday.

It’s the magical story of a young boy’s adventures when his snowman comes miraculously to life on Christmas Eve.

The snowmen and snowwomen are joined onstage by an array of colourful characters including dancing penguins, magical reindeer, a beautiful snow princess and her abominable beau Jack Frost.

The Snowman first appeared as a beautifully illustrated picture book by Raymond Briggs in 1978.

It subsequently inspired the classic Oscar Nominated, BAFTA award-winning animated film first transmitted by Channel 4 on Christmas Eve thirty years ago. The film’s signature song Walking In The Air, by Howard Blake, reached number 3 in the UK charts when sung by choirboy Aled Jones in 1985, and has long remained a classical favourite.

Since its premiere at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1993, the live stage show of The Snowman has been seen by more than a million people worldwide.