A CHRISTMAS festival which thousands of people have enjoyed every year for quarter of a century has been called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers of the Durham Christmas Festival, a weekend of markets, music and events held in the city, have cancelled this year’s festival.

They said it was unrealistic for organisers and traders to commit to the event due to the current uncertainties and possible restrictions caused by Covid-19.

The Northern Echo:

Colin Wilkes, managing director of Durham Markets Company which run the festival with Durham University, said: “It has been a very difficult decision but unfortunately too much uncertainty remains. Durham Christmas Festival will take a break for 2020, but we will be back in December 2021.

The Northern Echo:

“For 26 years, Durham Christmas Festival has brought together hundreds of independent traders in the heart of Durham and welcomed 1000s of visitors into the city.

"For many, it has become the start of the festive season, with the annual Children’s Lantern Procession a particular favourite for families.

The Northern Echo:

“We regret that we’re not able to provide our region’s independent traders with what is a very valuable trading opportunity for them.

"We hope that, as Christmas nears, everyone will look to support small businesses from around the region, and that the festival will return at the beginning of December 2021. Christmas without Durham Christmas Festival just won’t be the same.”

The Northern Echo:

The festival was launched in 1993 and has grown over the years to include markets on Palace Green and in the Cloisters of Durham Cathedral, festive music around the city, and special seasonal events in the Cathedral, Castle and Town Hall.

The three day festival has become the busiest shopping days of the year in Durham City Centre.