We think we can all agree: Christmas is all about tradition. Sure, Robbie Williams’ new festive album might make it’s way under plenty of Christmas trees this year, but he just can’t say ‘It’s Christmas’ quite like Slade. Where better, then, to soak up all the time-honoured traditions of Christmases gone by than at Beamish Museum? Father Christmas’ Grotto, the Beamish Bazaar and the incredible ice rink will have the whole family skating (not stepping) into Christmas for another year of festive fun.
Until 24th December
The Woodmans Arms, Whickham
If it’s a particularly chilly day, there’s no place better to warm up than The Woodmans Arms. This award-winning gastropub offers comfort in spades, with traditional tartan seating booths, intimate lighting and a roaring stove, and their food is no different – expect comforting pub classics like homemade steak pie and beer battered fish and chips (which were named in the UK’s top three at The National Fish & Chip Awards 2019), while their Christmas offering is equally impressive – with festive surrounds to match.
Whether it’s listening to fireside stories with Father Christmas, enjoying festive afternoon tea, or trying your hand at making your own willow reindeer or festive wreaths, there’s plenty to keep all ages out of mischief at Raby Castle – not least the Enchanted Festive Forest, where families can explore a trail through the Christmas trees every weekend in December, full of magical scenes to discover, before collecting their prize and settling down at the Christmas craft tables.
Until 28th December
The Pickled Parson of Sedgefield
A relative newcomer after a name change and a major refurb, The Pickled Parson of Sedgefield is stylish yet cosy – think exposed brick walls with metallic highlights – while the menu offers everything you could wish for from a cosy country eatery. Artisan charticurie boards, chicken pie, beer battered cod – you name it. Make sure to leave room for dessert, though, the made-to-order chocolate fondant with hazelnut ice cream is not to be missed. At the bar find craft ales and wine from some of the world’s most interesting wine makers. Winner of our Accommodation of The Year Award 2019, it’s not just a lovely pub at the heart of the community, it’s a stylish place to stay too.
Thought the Christmas pantos were behind you after the big day? Oh, no they’re not! Middlesbrough Theatre’s Christmas cracker of a panto will run until 5th January, and this year’s tale of Sleeping Beauty definitely won’t see anyone in the audience nodding off. A Princess sleeps for a lifetime in her forgotten palace, following an evil curse that has put her under a spell – but will true love’s kiss awaken Sleeping Beauty? Or will evil triumph over good? Starring Anne Hegerty (ITV’s The Chase) as Carabosse, and Philip Green as Muddles the Jester, this magical family production is sure to enchant.
Until 5th January
Barrio Comida, Durham
Shaun Hurrell’s taqueria pop-up took prime position on Newcastle’s Quayside in the former Riley’s Fish Shack, but left a Mexican-shaped hole in all of our hearts when they closed their doors in December 2017. Having now built themselves a permanent out-post on Church Street, Durham – complete with a taqueria and basement bar – Barrio Comida are yet another of the North East’s successful street foodies to go bricks-and-mortar. Head along this month for authentic Mexican dishes (a far cry from your roast turkey), and be sure to try their rare-breed pork belly tacos with guacamole, salsa habanera and pink onions – we like ours with a margarita.
It's as traditional as turkey and tinsel – since 1940, folk have been enjoying the Yorkshire Christmas Meeting at Wetherby Racecourse, and we can see why the tradition has lasted. Live music, complimentary mulled wine and mince pies will lace the day’s excitement with festive spirit, as visitors enjoy a spectacular seven-race card, the highlight being the 888 Sport Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase.
Defined by clever, home-style cooking, expect the kinds of dishes your mum would serve up at home, but with added skill and finesse. Start with house bread, which is served with whipped pork dripping and cultured butter, and the confit duck rillettes with chutney and toast, followed by the rolled pork belly with pear and chestnut stuffing. And, if you’re not a Christmas pudding fan, don’t fret – traditional Yorkshire Parkin and a selection of cheeses from the local Courtyard Dairy are on offer too.
Ahoy all adventure seekers! This Christmas, escape your landlubbers’ lodgings and join the crew aboard the Hispaniola at the Stephen Joseph Theatre: a ship full of Scarborough scalleys, headed to Treasure Island in search of Captain Flint's buried gold. Are you brave enough to help Jim and his band of bonkers buccaneers find the treasure before the pirates do? Beware – there’ll be high winds, a giant mechanical crab (called Susan) and a pirate cook with a talking carrot in this swashbuckling production.
Until 29th December
Crab and Lobster, Asenby
Decking their quirky halls for yuletide, the Crab and Lobster will be offering a festive spin on their award-winning menus to make this Christmas unique. Enjoy dishes such as steamed Shetland muscles with roast parsnips and cream, classic local turkey with a Brussel sprout and walnut stir fry, or choose from their not-so-festive but truly delicious seafood offering, which includes roast fillet of sea trout with prawn and lobster bisque – after all, it’s what they do best.
We don’t think there’s anything quite as festive as a ballet, and this year Northern Ballet promise to whisk you away to a winter wonderland with their beautiful reimagining of Cinderella at The Grand Theatre & Opera House in Leeds. In this sparkling adaptation of the classic rags-to-riches tale, Cinders is whisked away from her wicked step-mother to the glistening lake of ice where she first meets her Prince. And you can be sure there’s plenty of Christmas magic in this ultimate feel-good fairytale.
Until 2nd January
With a menu dedicated to showcasing the best pasta this side of Italy (but with a Yorkshire twist), Sarto are shaking up Leeds’ culinary scene. The laid-back bar and restaurant, complete with an open kitchen, serves fresh pasta (made in-house daily), with an added beer-house vibe, and is the perfect alternative to a traditional festive feast. Ours is the pappardelle and neck of beef ragu with Old Winchester and a North Brew Co beer – with not a turkey dinner in sight.