A popular Christmas festival has returned to the North East - but is only here for three days, so you better be quick!

Durham Christmas Festival has become one of the region's premier stops for festive shopping, and has been running for over 25 years. 

This year, shoppers will be able to purchase gifts from over 240 small independent retailers over the first weekend in December (Friday 2 to Sunday 4). 

The Children's Lantern Parade will also return this year, for the first time since the pandemic. On Saturday afternoon, 150 children will carry lanterns through the city as the light falls, accompanied by the Chester-le-Street Salvation Army Band. 

The Northern Echo:

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Colin Wilkes MBE, Managing Director of Durham Markets Company which organises the festival together with Durham University, commented: "Numerous small businesses from across the North East have spent weeks getting ready for the Christmas Festival. 

"The city of Durham becomes truly festive for the weekend, with buskers carolling in the Market Place and on Palace Green and with bands playing seasonal favourites that everyone knows and loves. 

"With free activities for children on Palace Green on both Saturday and Sunday, it’s an event for the whole family - prepare to head home with your bags full!"

Many of the retailers have taken part in Durham Christmas Festival before, and keep coming back because of the "lovely atmosphere, friendly clients, and great location". 

The Northern Echo:

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The festival is spread across the historic city centre with four separate markets, each occupying a separate retail niche. 

The Craft & Gin Marquee will be located on Palace Green, the Regional Producers’ Market in the Cloisters of Durham Cathedral, a Festive Outdoor Market in Durham Market Place, and Durham Market Hall which will be open each day of the festival (and all the Sundays in December up to Christmas). 

Most areas of the festival are free to attend - though tickets for the Gin & Craft Marquee do need to be purchased; tickets are £4 or can be bought online in advance for a discounted rate. 

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