Durham Christmas Festival is to return this festive season – with this year marking the event’s 25th anniversary.

The festival – often seen as one of the best Christmas festivals in the UK – will bring thousands of visitors into Durham City between Friday 30th November and Sunday December 2nd.

Visitors will be able to browse the offerings of an incredible 250 independent traders on four separate markets in addition to enjoying a range of Yuletide entertainments.

The entertainment is set to include a Santa’s grotto on Palace Green and numerous street performers, who will be wowing the crowds throughout the city centre. There will be fire-eaters, jugglers, static birds of prey and children’s storytelling sessions.

The Durham Christmas Festival will also include the atmospheric Children’s Lantern Procession, which will progress from the Market Place to Durham Cathedral for the St Nicholas Service. Earlier on the same day, December 1st, the cathedral will be hosting the Carols for All service.

The centrepiece of the festival will be the Craft and Gift Marque on Palace Green, which will house over 180 independent traders offering goods ranging from decorations, homeware and gifts to food and drink.

And, for the first time this year, there will be an opportunity to enjoy an early preview of the stalls. On the evening of Thursday 29th November, festival goers will get to have a sneak peek inside the Craft and Gift Marque. All the money raised from tickets sold for this preview will go to St Cuthbert’s Hospice’s 30th Birthday Appeal.

The festival will be organised by Durham Markets and Durham University. The managing director of Durham Markets, Colin Wilkes, said, “When we introduced the Christmas Festival, we never thought we’d still be here 25 years later.”

“Over the years, the festival has brought thousands of people into Durham City Centre, both locals and visitors, and many keep coming back.”

“Durham Christmas Festival is a great way to showcase this beautiful city, as well as all the independent businesses who come along. The Charity Preview evening will be a wonderful addition to the festival, hopefully an evening event which will attract new visitors as well as support our local hospice in its special year.”

Durham Christmas Festival will comprise four markets in total: the Craft and Gift Marque on Palace Green, the Festive Outdoor Market in Durham Market Place, the Regional Producers’ Market in the cloisters of Durham Cathedral, and Durham Market Hall just off the Market Place.

The Children’s Lantern Procession will leave the Market Place – behind the Chester-le-Street Salvation Army Brass Band – at 3.45 pm, arriving at the cathedral in time for the St Nicholas Service, which begins at 4.10 pm.

The lanterns – which are recommended for children up to the age of 12 – can now be reserved via the festival’s website at a cost of £5.00. The children can keep their lanterns after the parade.

Tickets for the Craft and Gift Marquee, including for the Charity Preview Evening, are now available from the festival’s website. There is a 50 pence discount for tickets for bought in advance online.

To learn more about the festival, reserve lanterns or book tickets, please go to www.durhamchristmasfestival.com.

(The featured image shows the Children’s Lantern Procession.)

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