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Christmas and New Year in Northumbria

Written by Northumbria Byways on

There aren’t many better ways to make the festive season even more special than spending Christmas and New Year in Northumbria. With a whole host of different events, markets, shows, and parties – and a great variety of countryside, from national parks and tranquil forests, to rugged coastlines and windswept dunes – the region has something special for everyone to enjoy. Here are just some of the great things to see and do in Northumbria over Christmas and New Year.

Christmas Events

image: kielderwinterwonderland.com

There are some superb Christmas Events taking place in Northumbria this year, with something for all the family to enjoy. Wallington Hall, a National Trust property near Morpeth, is holding ‘Christmas by Twilight’ events every Friday evening until Christmas Day, where you can visit Wallington after dark and see the house beautifully decorated for Christmas, and illuminated by thousands of twinkly lights. There will be festive baking in the AGA, musical performances in the Central Hall, festive stories in the library from Mrs Christmas, and you can even meet Father Christmas himself. In fact, Santa will be rather busy in Northumbria over the Christmas period. As well as visiting Wallington, you’ll be able to find him at Grottos in Northumberlandia, Northumberland County Zoo, and The Alnwick Garden, to name a few.

Visiting Santa is just one of many Christmas opportunities awaiting you at The Alnwick Garden. Every weekend they will be holding a new and exciting Christmas themed event, from a fearsome Snow Lion to Christmas Penguins. There will also be a Winter Trail, a Skating Rink, and two Disco Party and Winter Wonderland events for a party atmosphere. You can find a full list of their events here.

Kielder Forest is transforming itself into a festive winter wonderland this Christmas, filled with magical surprises for all the family. This is a full-day experience, jam-packed with Christmas activities. Meet the elves and follow them through the woods to find Father Christmas. Help Mrs Christmas get ready in time for the big day. Enjoy a festive show in the Christmas theatre, try some skating, meet the reindeer – the choice is yours!

Christmas Markets

There are a whole host of wonderful Christmas markets taking place across Northumbria this year. The Alnwick Garden, for instance, is holding a Christmas Market every weekend until the 17th December. Each stall holder has been hand-picked by the The Alnwick Garden, and their range of locally produced food and crafts are sure to delight. There will be seasonal singing and live music played by performers from the region. Woodhorn Museum, in Ashington, holds its annual Winter Market on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th December. The Market features a fantastic selection of gifts, food and produce from some of the region’s finest makers, craftspeople and producers, while the weekend will also include a skating rink and Father Christmas stable grotto.

You can also escape the hustle of the high street and find some gorgeous gifts and treats at Ellingham Hall, which is holding a Christmas Fair on Saturday 9th December. In addition to the wide variety of high quality craft stalls, there will be Santa’s Grotto and fun crafts at the Elves Workshop for the kids, and delicious hog roast and a mug of hot cider for you to kick off the season in style.

Christmas Shows and Panto

image: gillian.northey@theatreroyal.co.uk

There are some great theatres packed into the region, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to catching a traditional Christmas panto. The Phoenix Theatre in Blyth celebrates its 40th pantomime year in 2017, and marks the occasion with the family favourite ‘Cinderella‘. You can catch another favourite of the season at the Alnwick Playhouse, who are having their traditional rendition of ‘Aladdin’, while Seaton Delaval Arts Centre have both a traditional panto performance of Dick Whittington, as well as a much more unorthodox pantomime: The Suggestibles improv-comedy troupe are touring the North East with their ‘Impro-pantso’, a festive treat very much for grown-ups.

Venture into Newcastle to the fabulous Theatre Royal for their production of ‘Peter Pan’, the theatre’s first rendition of the tale for more than a decade, or head to the Tyne Theatre and Opera House for ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Alternatively, the Northern Stage is holding a theatrical production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Winter Walks

Get out into the bracing air for an invigorating winter walk in some of the best walking routes in the country. Whether it’s a way to work off the Christmas dinner, or just an excuse to get out into the great outdoors, the vast range of walks on offer in Northumbria makes it perfect for a winter stroll. The Northumbrian Coastal Path makes for a dramatic, refreshing walk, with spectacular scenic coastline, historic castles and delightful coastal villages. For a great winter walk, start at Craster village, and make your way towards the mighty ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. From there, follow the long sweep of Embleton Sands before reaching Low Newton by the Sea, then loop back to Craster where you can find a superb range of places to eat, drink and warm-up on your return.

Further inland, we have some of the country’s most spectacular countryside, whether it’s the Northumberland National Park, the Hadrian’s Wall Path or The Pennine Way. The rugged terrain of the Cheviot Hills is perfect for exploring and working off all the festive food – and for a winter walk that gives you a taste of the Cheviots, the Ingram Horseshoe is ideal. With an accessible start point, and without venturing too high, it’s just what you need for blowing away the cobwebs.

New Year Celebrations

image: flickr user UncleBucko http://ow.ly/2FED30h1APa

New Year in Northumbria is a special time, with one of the country’s most famous traditions taking place in the region. The Tar Barl Festival in Allendale is a unique way of welcoming in the new year, one that has been taking place for at least 160 years – with some believing it may have even originated in the Middle Ages. 45 ‘guisers’ carry whiskey barrels filled with burning hot tar in a procession through the town – at midnight, these barrels are used to ignite the ceremonial bonfire, a sight unlike anything else you might see anywhere in the country.

A more recent tradition has also emerged in the region, with Kielder Observatory’s now traditional New Year’s Eve party a fixture of the region’s celebrations. Under the darkest skies in the UK, their team of astronomers and high-tech instruments show you the wonders of the constellations in the night sky – ‘a thousand nuclear furnaces’ as they put it. Add to this champagne, middle-eastern street food, Ceilidh dancing under the stars and live music and you can see why the event has become so popular.

For more historical surroundings, head to Alnwick Castle, who are open for a New Year’s Eve meal. Enjoy a delicious four-course dinner, drinks and entertainment in the grandeur of their majestic Guest Hall.

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