A TOWN got its countdown to Christmas underway at the weekend.

Shops, schools and other organisations have designed window displays to create a giant Advent calendar in Bishop Auckland, with each window featuring different festive stories from around the world.

The first to open, at Auckland Tower, was created by children from St Wilfrid’s RCVA Primary School and unveiled by Jane Ruffer, leadership team chair at The Auckland Project.

It shows The Annunciation at the start of the nativity story– when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary she will be the mother of Jesus. Pupils performed a short play and song for the occasion.

Mrs Ruffer said the Auckland Project charity supports the Advent Windows project which fits perfectly with its work, based around the ecclesiastic complex of Auckland Castle and other attractions.

She said: “We want to be part of the town and involved in all sorts of things– the people who live here, schools, shops, all the activity that goes on we want to be part of.

“The study and worship of God has gone on here for hundreds of years and we want to celebrate and continue that.”