Our pre-Christmas visit to two of the UK’s most historic and architecturally celebrated cities begins in Yuletide Durham. Begin your time in this eminent city at the huge craft and gift marquee on Palace Green, the focus of Durham’s Christmas Festival, overlooked by the magnificent Durham Cathedral. In one of his best-selling books, travel writer Bill Bryson called this building “the best cathedral on planet earth”, and it is well worth a look around; more than half a million visitors seek it out every year.
Harry Potter fans will particularly enjoy wandering through corridors that formed some of the set of Hogwarts in the film. See also Durham’s popular Jingle the Pony as he pulls his trap around Palace Green giving rides to visitors. You may also wish to stop for a while and enjoy one of the live cooking demonstrations by renowned local chefs, or one of the other displays or performances on offer for your delight.
After checking out the view of the River Wear wending away into the distance, enjoy wandering the streets of this compact pedestrian city centre. If you are heading for the indoor market, tick off a few presents on your list by dipping in and out of the inviting stalls scattered along the route. Or take a peek at the live nativity, with its very own cow, sheep and donkey.
As you wander through the city, the fire jugglers, street entertainers and carol singers doing their stuff on almost every corner will make your day complete. There is no shortage of diversions, surprises and seasonal delights in this city that lights up the North East with its fairy-lit festive glow.
But don’t overdo it; there is still dinner, bed and breakfast to enjoy before this dual package of North East gems transports you to York.
The traditional St Nicholas Fayre is a bustling marketplace of sweets and treats. This annual Fayre, with its Edwardian and Victorian theme, is spread across several of York’s most historic spaces. And the scenic backdrop magnifies the magic at every turn. Crusty pies, country wines, venison and wild boar are some of the seasonal foods for sale, as well as the very best of ‘Deliciously Yorkshire’ local farm produce.
For those who need a quieter moment, York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, has plenty of them to spare. If one of York’s world-famous museums doesn’t grab you and hold you for a while, the glittering range of shops just might; a wide range of major high street stores and exclusive boutiques will meet your every need.
This tour is organised and operated by Omega Short Breaks Ltd ABTA Y5914