High hopes for Durham's Christmas Festival

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RETAILERS are hoping Durham Christmas Festival will provide a festive shot in the arm for the city’s economy this weekend (December 6-8).

Now in its 20th year, the festival has become a major fixture in Durham’s calendar.

This year’s will feature a 190-stall craft and gift marquee on Palace Green, a food producers’ market in Durham Cathedral, a children’s lantern procession, family entertainment and carol services.

However, with free Friday entry to the marquee scrapped, organisers will have their work cut out to top last year’s record visitor numbers of 70,000.

Colin Wilkes, managing director of Durham Markets, said: “We have had the success of the Lindisfarne Gospels and Lumiere but the Christmas Festival is the only true retail event, where people come with the principle intention of shopping.

“We hope it brings increased footfall and spend into the city centre.”

Mr Wilkes said Friday charges were an unfortunate fact of life because the festival, organised by Durham Markets and Durham University, received no public funding.

Many retailers enjoy their busiest days of the year on festival weekend, so they will be hoping for good weather.

“It’s important to have a good Christmas Festival,” Mr Wilkes said.

“We know January and February are typically much quieter months, so we if we can get a good December under our belts, it does help.”

The craft and gift marquee will be open from 10am to 6pm on Friday (December 6), 9am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 4.30pm on Sunday. Entry costs £2.50 on Friday and £3.50 on Saturday and Sunday.

Online booking brings a 50p discount and accompanied children under 16 can attend for free.

A food producers’ market will be held in Durham Cathedral cloisters from 10am to 5pm on Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturday.

A festive market will be in the Market Place from 9am to 4pm on Friday and Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday.

The St Nicholas’ Children’s Lantern Procession leaves the Market Place at 3.30pm on Saturday, reaching the Cathedral for a short service at 4.15pm.

There will also be carols services, children’s entertainment, Durham Castle tours and more.

For full listings, visit durhamchristmasfestival.com


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