A County Durham MP has taken aim at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle after the venue changed the name of its popular Christmas market. 

North West Durham MP Richard Holden has called out the 'absurd' decision for the cultural attraction after making it more inclusive for visitors. 

The MP has been quick to criticise the event after Bowes announced that it had rebranded as a 'Winter' market for this year.

Mr Holden said: “This decision by the Bowes museum is absurd.

“It is ridiculous to think that people who aren’t Christian would feel excluded going to a Christmas market. Changing the name can only drive a unanimously negative reaction - as we have seen over the last few days. It is purely performative.

The Northern Echo: Bowes MuseumBowes Museum (Image: RICHARD HOLDEN)

“I am no marketing guru, but the phrase ‘Christmas Market’ is so nostalgic, creating imagery of happiness, and people enjoying themselves in the snow.

"For me, a 'winter market' conjures up images of a dreary, empty, drab place where you’d be lucky to find parents purchasing a piece of coal for badly behaved children.

“Hopefully, whoever cooked up this dreadful idea will see the error of their ways, retract it and help save Christmas many of my constituents who enjoy popping down to Barney for the Bowes Museum Christmas Market every year.”

Mr Holden isn't the only one to criticise the venue over its name change after David Harper who has appeared on Flog It! and Bargain Hunt took to Facebook to point out the 'issue'.

He posted: “Christmas is cancelled in Barnard Castle.

"My local museum The Bowes Museum has cancelled the word ‘Christmas’ from its upcoming, yearly and traditional ‘Christmas Market’

“I normally enjoy the market… because, it’s very ‘Christmassy’.

“But if we’re not allowed to use the word ‘Christmas’ what should the market be called? Over to you.”

BBC Antiques Road Trip star claims The Bowes Museum is 'deleting Christmas'

The 56-year-old BBC star who lives in the County Durham market town has since told The Sun that he thinks the museum is “deleting Christmas”.

He said: “They are deleting Christmas from a Christmas market in the hope it will attract more people.

“What’s next? Are we going to cancel Santa, the reindeer, children wearing Christmas hats?

“Essentially, all you’ll be left with is a Wednesday market.

"This won’t stop until we stop it.

"We need to nip this in the bud, take control and be a bit braver.

"They are taking the joy out of Christmas.

“Oliver Cromwell tried to do that in the 1640s by rejecting Christmas.

"This is as close as we have been in the last 350 years to that Cromwellian idea.”

The market will open to the public in mid-December and is described as "a firm favourite in the regional calendar".

Hannah Fox, executive director at The Bowes Museum, said: “The Bowes Museum has not cancelled Christmas.

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"We have a very popular seasonal programme of events of which the market is the centre piece.

"It’s fabulous and everyone is welcome, however they celebrate over the festive season."

"Christmas is very much part of the Museum and its Winter Season Programme.

"Our decorations are much admired and enjoyed by visitors who also come to our late night shopping evenings.

"There’s lots to do from artist led workshops, to themed tours and Christmas activities, alongside opportunities to buy Christmas cards and decorations, advent candles and calendars in our shop.”