It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Five ways to get you well and truly in the Christmas spirit this festive season!

Yes, believe it or not, it’s that time of year again… For all you humbugs out there who refuse to acknowledge the existence of Christmas until a week before, I appreciate this article may seem sickeningly premature. However, if like me, ordering a gingerbread latte or buying a chunky knit jumper gives you that warm festive feeling, read on!

Granted I’m biased, but I defy anyone to find a location more Christmassy that Durham’s city centre. Whether it’s the cathedral, magnificently lit up at night, the cobbled winding streets or the numerous coffee shops and cosy restaurants… I could go on! If Durham can’t get you in the festive spirit, nothing can!

We all know that Christmas is the perfect time to feel the love whether that be romantic, (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”) or otherwise! Whether you’re loved up this Christmas or not, here are a few locally-based activities that should help kick-start that much loved festive feeling.

1. Ice Skating

Starting on the 14th November, Skating@life is an opportunity to wrap up warm, put some skates on and stumble round an ice rink whilst listening to all your favorite Christmas hits – what more could you want? Situated outside Newcastle’s strikingly modern Centre for Life (only 2 minutes from Newcastle Central Station) it couldn’t be more accessible. I guarantee it’ll be an experience whether you can actually skate or just hold onto the railings for dear life like me!

See prices and opening times on the event’s website: http://www.life.org.uk/ticket-prices-from-14-november-2015#.VkO2SiT5zR0

2. Tyneside Cinema

Perhaps when your hands have seized up with too much ice skating you might want to de-layer and defrost at the Tyneside Cinema. The venue has a range of great cafés and bars to choose from pre- and post-film. A host of festive favourites are being shown in the run-up to Christmas so make sure you don’t miss out! Just as a heads up, the Christmas classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” is being shown on the 11th December. However, if you’re after something less teary and a bit more lighthearted, “Home Alone” is also showing on the 19th December.

Here is a link to the Christmas section of the website so you can browse the full range of Christmas films coming up: https://www.tynesidecinema.co.uk/whats-on/christmas-at-the-tyneside

3. Markets

The Victorian Christmas Market located in North Shields’ famous Northumberland Square (North Shields is only 20 minutes on the Metro from Newcastle Central Station) is a great occasion to soak up the festive atmosphere (and the mulled wine!) whilst offering the chance to peruse the wide variety of stalls and perhaps pick up a few last minute gifts. Stallholders serve you in traditional Victorian attire and there is even a full programme of entertainment and live music. The event takes place from the 12th to the 13th December and no tickets are required to attend.

For full details of what’s on and how to get there, here is the website: http://www.victorianmarket.co.uk

Here are a couple of simple ideas for those who don’t fancy straying from Durham:

4. You can’t beat a wintery wander and a trip to the pub!

Grab a Hot Mulled Fruit from Starbucks and take a walk up to Wharton Park (near the station), offering impressive views over beautiful Durham city. I imagine this view is especially impressive at night when the city is lit up. After a moment of wistful gazing, you may fancy a drink by the fire in the traditional and atmospheric Garden House Inn. I am also told that the food there is very good.

Find the specific locations mentioned above see Google maps here:

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/The+Garden+House+Inn/@54.7832191,1.5876097,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x487e7df252e7ab7b:0xb0cc32dbecb5e0c9

5. Who doesn’t love a good old carol service?

Whether you are religious or not, no-one can deny the dramatic beauty of Durham Cathedral. Now imagine it lit up by candlelight while carols echo all around… It really doesn’t get more magical than this! Snuggle up on a pew on the 12th December in the Cathedral to witness an array of Christmas carols and seasonal music.

For information on how to get your hands on tickets visit the website: http://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/whatson/christmas-cathedral-choir-2015

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