IT’S beginning to feel a lot like Christmas at Ushaw, near Durham, where festive plans are well underway to celebrate the Yule Tide. Amongst the many special events during the season are these selected highlights:

From Friday, November 30, Ushaw is opening its doors, chapels and gardens for Christmas, starting with the lighting of St Cuthbert’s Chapel Christmas Tree at 5pm. A glorious Festival of Christmas Trees will be on display right up until Christmas, featuring all shapes and sizes, decorated and lit by local flower arrangers and enthusiasts. The theme is ‘Our best-known and much-loved seasonal songs and carols’. A wonderful occasion to bring the family along to, and to mark the start of the Advent and Christmas Season. £5 entry or annual pass.

On Saturday, December 1, join Ushaw’s team of volunteer gardeners between 1pm and 3pm, to enjoy some seasonal outdoor activities in the gorgeous Ushaw grounds. Christmas in the Gardens is the perfect opportunity to see the wonderful work the gardeners do each day.

The Royal Northern Sinfonia will be celebrating the season in St Cuthbert’s Chapel on Thursday, December 6, with Christmas Baroque.  The programme will include Mozart Serenade No.13 in G major ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’; Vivaldi Bassoon Concerto in A minor; Chopin Nocturne Op.37 No.2 in G; Vivaldi Flute Concerto Op.10 No.2 ‘La notte’; Vivaldi Winter from ‘Four Seasons’ Op.8 No.4; and Borodin String Quartet No.2 in D major. Starting at 7.30pm, tickets cost £15 (concessions £5).

On Saturday, December 8, The Snowman – a festive favourite – returns for the fourth year running, led by Durham Music Service’s talented musicians and singers. There will be a bar and food available before each showing at 1.30pm and 3pm. Tickets are £7.

Carols in St Cuthbert’s Cathedral are a big part of Ushaw at Christmas, and they start on Tuesday, December 11, at 7.30pm, with local favourites, Crook and Weardale Choral Society. The Diocesan Choir will perform on Wednesday, December 12, at 7.30pm, and The Ushaw Singers, made up of staff and volunteers, will perform on Thursday, December 13, at 12.30pm. Finally, it’s the turn of the Ushaw’s very own Chapel Choir, who will perform at 7.30pm on Thursday, December 13. Entry is free to come and enjoy the carols.

We are delighted to welcome back Opera dei Lumi, on Sunday, December 16, to the beautiful surroundings of Ushaw College with another Messiah. Bringing together the finest musical talent from across the UK, this year Opera dei Lumi will explore Handel’s performances in London in 1750 – a watershed moment in the work’s evolution to how we know and love it today. Revel in the effervescence of this magnificent masterpiece, featuring many of the composer’s best-known choruses (notably the Hallelujah), and arias of unparalleled virtuosity and lyricism. Starting at 3pm, tickets cost £12.

In complete contrast, come and enjoy a Jazzy Christmas, featuring new arrangements of festive favourites, at 7.30pm on Thursday, December 20. Tickets cost £15.

Make every Sunday from November 24 to December 11 a special day with Ushaw’s Christmas Sunday Lunch in the stunning, Pugin-designed Refectory. Booking is essential by calling 0191 373 8500, or email for further details. Two courses: £22.50; three courses: £25

Visit the website for more amazing Ushaw Christmas events you won’t want to miss: http://www.ushaw.org/store/index.php?page=concerts-and-events

Box Office is open Monday – Friday from 10.00am – 12.00noon

Telephone: 0191 334 5119

Email: meet@ushaw.org