The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge told youngsters training in circus skills they were "incredible" when they arrived in Sunderland to celebrate a vibrant new arts centre.
The royal couple was cheered by around 500 people as they went on a walkabout outside The Fire Station - a landmark building in the city centre which has been transformed into an £3.5 million cultural hub.
Wearing a green Dolce & Gabbana coat over a Seraphine black and white dress, the duchess chatted with families waiting outside and made a point of talking to the children acting as mini-policemen in uniform by the barricades.
Kate smiled as she told some of those waiting the weather was much better than it had been in London.
As they went inside, the duke and duchess sat down with children at a storytelling workshop - William sitting on floor among the children but joking that his wife "might need a chair".
Kate did sit on a chair as she chatted to Mason Redman, 10, and Alex Carter, nine, about how much they like Harry Potter.
William left telling the children to keep on working on their stories about "ants and broccoli".
The royal couple then watched a dance and circus skills class.
The duchess told Nicole Coates, 12, and Theresa Dunn, 11, both from Sunderland, what they were doing on the silks and trapeze was "incredible". She said: "I haven't seen that before" to the girls from Sunderland's Dance City group.
Nicole said: "I just want to perform and dance. I don't want to work in an office - that's someone else's dream."
The girls also chatted with Kate and William about Cirque du Soleil.