More than 40 artisan craftspeople and food producers from across the North East are preparing for the return of a popular Christmas Market.

The grounds of Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland will be the setting of a seasonal shopping fair from Friday November 17 to Sunday November 19, 2017.

An array of inspiring and distinctive gifts and speciality foods will be on sale, from sweets and seasonal gingerbread to cheese, kitchenware and Christmas decorations.

A number of Bishop Auckland-based businesses will be setting up stalls at this year’s Christmas Market. Tinkers Treasures will be selling a variety of products including rustic home décor and jewellery; The Auckland Cupcake Company will also be selling their sweet treats to visitors for a second year.

Wayne Furnell, who established The Auckland Cupcake Company with his wife, Joanne, said about last year’s Market: “The Christmas Market at Auckland Castle was our first ever event. We couldn’t believe how popular our cupcakes were. By the time I put the cupcakes out, we had a queue of people wanting to buy them.

“I’ve recently left my full time job to concentrate on The Auckland Cupcake Company and plan on being well stocked for this year’s market.”

A festive Makers’ Market will also be taking place at No.42, The Auckland Project’s shop and community gallery space in the nearby Market Place. Visitors to No.42 can admire the craftsmanship of local artists, with a range of unique artwork on sale, from stained glass Christmas decorations to greetings cards decorated with jelly babies.

Jackie Stonehouse, No.42 Manager, said “The Makers’ Market will offer visitors something different to put into this year’s Christmas stocking, with quirky gifts and novel ideas that showcase the talent of local artists.”

Liz Fisher, Engagement Director at The Auckland Project, added “It’s fantastic that so many local and regional businesses are attending this year’s Christmas Market. The Market is a popular event for visitors who want to enjoy a relaxed Christmas shopping experience with family and friends, and this year with the addition of No.42 it will be bigger than ever.

“We are looking forward to welcoming guests and stallholders for three days of festivities.”

A major restoration of 900-year-old Auckland Castle is due to be completed in summer 2018. The work forms part of a wider revitalisation programme being undertaken by The Auckland Project. To date, more than £130m has been committed to the Project, including £11.4m of National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Visitors to the Christmas Market can take a sneak peek at the Castle, which is otherwise closed to visitors, and find out more about the large amount of work underway on Saturday November 18 and Sunday November 19.

The Christmas Market and Makers’ Market, organised by The Auckland Project, are part of a programme of events, supported by the National Lottery funding, which is designed to support grassroots heritage and encourage communities to explore their local history.

Entry to the Markets at Auckland Castle and No.42 is free. The Christmas Market at Auckland Castle will be running from 1pm-7pm on Friday November 17 and 10am-4pm on Saturday November 18 and Sunday November 19.

The Makers’ Market at No.42 will be open from 10am-7pm on Friday, 10am-5pm on Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday.

For more information visit aucklandproject.org.

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