The festive season is upon us yet again, and it’s time to start embracing the Christmas spirit.
To help you get started here are our pick of the best events in the North East of England throughout November and December, including family days-out, shows and those all important switching on of the lights ceremonies.
The Magic of Christmas Aboard The Polar Express
Weardale Railway, County Durham
15 Nov-29 Dec, See website for various times and prices
Inspired by the run-away hit movie this very special train ride will delight and inspire your family this festive season. The Polar Express makes a mystical round-trip journey to the North Pole. The characters of the story come to life as the conductor checks golden tickets, chefs deliver hot chocolate and cookies and the music from the movie plays for all the kids to sing along. At the North Pole, Santa anxiously awaits the children amongst the sparkling lights of his little city and climbs aboard to give the classic silver bell to all the believing boys and girls.
Killhope Woodland, County Durham
16-17 Nov, 11am-4pm, £7.50 (Children – £4.20), More info
This Winter Woodland truly captures the spirit of the season. After a short walk through the magically lit woodland you can enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows in the yurt village. You can then write your letter to Santa and see the eleven trained owls deliver the letters to Lapland. There are crafts in the Visitor Centre where you can make a lantern to take along on the dazzling lantern walk before toasting chestnuts in the forge with the site’s very own Blacksmith.
Bede’s World, Newcastle
7-8 Nov, 10am-6pm, FREE, more info
This is a Yule Celebration which really turns back the clock to a different time. A time when people got their Yule Log, and they had roast chestnuts, mulled wine and gingerbread houses. There is even more tradition to be found with Holly Wreaths, Mistletoe and St Nicholas giving out Sinterklass Candies. There are traditional and artisan crafts, locally produced foods, storytelling, a charity raffle, entertainment and music throughout the day to entertain the whole family.
Ray Jackson’s Lindisfarne Christmas Show
Newcastle City Hall and Middlesborough Town Hall
15 Dec (Middlesborough), 20-23 Dec (Newcastle), 7:30pm, £20-40, more info
Ray Jackson, whose unique mandolin, harmonica and vocal styles helped create the original and hugely popular sound of Lindisfarne in the 1970s, is returning to the North East this winter with a handful of performances of his Legendary Lindisfarne Christmas Show. Extra date added on 20 Dec due to public demand.
Dark Woods, Deep Snow. A Grimm Tale for Christmas
Northern Stage, Newcastle
2-28 Dec, See website for various times and prices
In an Extremely Secret House in the Woods a rag-tag band of super heroic outcasts are ready to do battle with the gathering darkness. Like the Grimms before them, their quest is to rescue stories and bring them home in an attempt to save the world. But they may need your help… A story of friendship, betrayal, light and dark in a raucous Christmas adventure full of songs, snow and festive chaos. Guaranteed fun for the whole family.
Newcastle’s Christmas Lights Switch On with Capital Radio
Grey’s Monument, Newcastle
21 Nov, 5.30pm, free; more info
Capital FM’s Bodg, Matt and JoJo will be joined by ex-Newcastle United legend Steve Harper for the big switch-on of Newcastle’s Christmas lights, with thousands expected to attend. Also taking to the stage will be the winners of the annual Children’s Christmas Light competition, whose designs will be showcased on Nelson Street throughout the festive period.
Winter Wonderland and Skating Rink
Centre Square, Middlesborough
30 Nov-27 Dec, 11am, Free entry, Skating from £3.95, more info
Ice skating comes to Centre Square this year. The kids can meet Santa while the adults do some last minute shopping with a range of seasonal gifts available in the Marquee, along with your skates and a warming beverage. A great family day out.
Reindeer Parade and Light Switch On
Centre Square, Middlesborough
1 Dec, 3.30pm-5pm, Free entry. More info
On December 1, Centre Square is the place to be as Middlesbrough’s Christmas Lights Switch On and Reindeer Parade combine for a most magical celebration. The glittering procession of fire and ice travels through the heart of Middlesbrough, providing plenty of excellent viewing points. Watch out for ice queens, Jack Frost, ice dragons and fire birds, not to mention hundreds of children in costume and of course the beautiful Cairngorm Reindeer and Santa himself.