Barnard Castle Christmas Festival
Barnard Castle Christmas Festival

Barnard Castle Christmas Festival

Christmas is around the corner! More to See, Try, Touch, Taste, Enjoy and Buy

A magical five-day Christmas Festival involving cultural venues in picturesque Barnard Castle in County Durham is taking place this December 2017.

This historic market town - home to The Bowes Museum, The Witham arts centre and a Norman castle - will offer visitors an exciting festive mix of exhibitions, film screenings, performances and music alongside a traditional Christmas market featuring a wide selection of independent retailers as well as winter warming food and drink – the perfect combination in which to relax and soak up the joyful atmosphere.

The Christmas Festival launches on Wednesday 13 December with a Traditional Fair in The Bowes Museum grounds, featuring delicious food chalets, time-honoured fairground amusements, rides, side-shows, games and entertaining family activities. Santa is waiting to welcome children to his magical grotto, while an elves’ workshop, Christmas crafts and a fun festive trail promise to delight and entertain. Inspired by the Museum founders John & Joséphine Bowes, the Christmas Festival will celebrate the Museum’s 125th anniversary. The Bowes Museum remains open during the fair for all to enjoy.

The Bowes Museum’s annual Christmas Market – a firm favourite in the region’s calendar – has been extended this year, opening on the afternoon of 15th December and running all day on 16th and 17th December. It will be bigger and better than ever, with over 100 hand-picked stallholders offering original locally sourced Christmas produce to treat yourself as well as friends and family. Live music, seasonal entertainment, prize draws from Smooth Radio and the popular park & ride ‘Santa’ buses ensure this feel-good family event is not to be missed.

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the opportunity to enjoy a classic film, and The Witham sets the seasonal scene beautifully with a screening of the family favourite Miracle on 34th Street on 14th December. Further festive offerings include the comedian Chris Ramsey – Work in Progress 2, whose 15th December performance is a sellout; a warming supper coupled with a performance of A Christmas Carol by the acclaimed Castle Players, and Teesdale Christmas Art Fair.

Completing the picture will be fantastic musical performances at the TCR Hub on 16th December, featuring local performers and regional talent. While aimed at families, the event will continue late into the night, complemented by seasonal refreshments in the café, the ensure you leave in the festive mood.

Barnard Castle is just 17 miles west of the major A1/A66 Scotch Corner interchange and is served by the East Coast mainline station at Darlington, with frequent rail services to London & Edinburgh.

To learn more about all the Christmas Festival events, dates and timings visit the website>

Meanwhile, The Bowes Museum’s 125th anniversary celebrations continue with two exhibitions relating to the founders, John and Joséphine Bowes.

Joséphine Bowes – The Woman of Fashion ( on now until 7 January 2018)pays tribute to Joséphine, a driving force behind the Museum’s creation, highlighting her influence as a socialite and devotee of fashion, while Streatlam Castle: Rediscover the Home of John and Joséphine Bowes (25 November 2017 until 11 March 2018) documents the story of the home owned by the Bowes’ family for over 500 years before it was blown up in 1959.

Notes to editors:

·         The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 

·         The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England.

·         The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.

·         The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 0191 301 8531,

Categories: News

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.