Christmas & New Year
Allendale Tar Barl | Ross Beedle ©

Christmas & New Year

'It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go…'

The long-awaited Christmas season is upon us. Escape the stressful preparations and discover ways to get in the festive spirit in Northumberland. From Christmas markets and family fun to Boxing Day activities and New Year's Eve celebrations, we have you covered.

Festive events

'Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus…'

Kielder Winter Wonderland

Christmas events in Northumberland

Unleash your inner Torvill and Dean at one of the ice-skating rinks around the county. Follow illuminated band ‘Spark’ on a procession of light and music that captures the magical spirit of Christmas. For something a little more traditional, head to one of our stately homes and halls to meet Father Christmas. 

Admire the beautiful themed decorations and soak up the special Christmas atmosphere of our market towns. Marvel in the transformation of well-known castles and gardens illuminated at dusk throughout the winter. 

Find some great things to do on our Christmas Events page.

Christmas Markets

'Deck the halls with boughs of holly…'

If you're anything like us, every year you will promise to start your Christmas shopping early. If you’re anything like us, every year you will still be running around the high street on Christmas Eve looking for the perfect present for your mother-in-law. This year, say it and mean it.

Fill your Christmas stockings with unique and eclectic delights from one of several Christmas markets held throughout Northumberland in November and December. Along with a selection of handmade, artisan and traditional gifts on sale, they are a great chance to indulge in Christmas nibbles, make festive gifts and enjoy live carolling.

Grand Lantern Parade at Alnwick Garden

Grand Lantern Parade at Alnwick Garden

From family-friendly at The Alnwick Garden to foodie heaven at Vallum Farm, there’s a Christmas market to suit all.

Boxing Day 

If you can resist the lure of the Boxing Day sales, work off the Christmas dinner with a family walk in the beautiful Northumbrian outdoors.

Watch the waves crashing in on windswept dunes and beaches on the coast. Breathe in the crisp air of the Northumberland National Park countryside. Feel the tranquillity of Kielder Water and Forest Park. Be at one with history on Hadrian’s Wall.

Find a route to suit you with our Walking page.

Saturnalia stargazing

‘O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining…’

Start a new Christmas Eve tradition. Make a flask of hot chocolate, get the family bundled up and go outside for a moment of peace in amongst all the chaotic last-minute preparations. Look up at a canopy of nature’s own fairy lights twinkling above you. You might even see Santa Claus streaking across the sky in his sleigh!

Make the most of some downtime between Christmas and New Year. Get out into the darkest areas of Northumberland, such as the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park and the Northumberland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here you can feast on up to 2,000 stars at any one time.

Discover more about stargazing at Northumberland Stars.

New Year’s Eve

Tar Barl Festival, Allendale

This unique ceremony has been Allendale's way of welcoming in the new year for at least 160 years, though some believe it originated in the Middle Ages.

A selected team of 45 men in fancy dress, known as ‘guisers’, carry whiskey barrels filled with burning hot tar in a colourful procession through the town. At midnight, they arrive at the Bar’l fire in the town centre. The barrels are then used to ignite a ceremonial bonfire, as everyone shouts “Be damned to he who throws last”.

A brilliant way to see out the old year and welcome in the new!

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