ONE of the region’s leading cultural venues is giving Christmas traditions a 21st century twist this year – with hands-on events for all the family.

The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, at South Shields, has unveiled its programme of activities for the festive period.

And familiar Christmas elements – such as stories, gifts and greeting cards – are being given a very modern makeover, to appeal to all ages.

As an alternative to shop bought Christmas cards, the venue is giving visitors the chance to create their own, unique card, at a drop-in event on 30 November.

Green screen technology will give them the chance to appear on the card against a choice of festive backdrops and anyone taking part is invited to wear their Christmas jumpers and Santa hats.

The Christmas Card photo booth will be available from 10am to 4pm, while, from 10am to 12.30pm, The Word’s FabLab will be showing children aged eight and up, how to create a selection of festive items using state-of-the-art laser cutters.

And, from 1pm to 4pm FabLab will be showing those aged 16 and over how to make their very own, personalised Christmas box.

On Saturday 7 and 14 December, FabLab at the Word is also holding drop-in Create and Design for Christmas sessions, between 10am and 3pm, where all ages can

see their own designs brought to life with the help of laser cutters.

On various dates throughout late November and December, choirs from across South Tyneside will be performing Christmas tunes old and new, from carols to chart toppers, in The Word’s atrium.

Then, on Saturday 7, 14 and 21 December, the atrium will also be the setting for children to enjoy a range of Christmas crafts and activities, while in The Word’s StoryWorld children will hear a selection of Christmas Tales – with an interactive twist.

At these sessions, which must be pre-booked, under sevens and their families can listen as a Christmas storyteller tells magical tales as some favourite Christmas characters are projected onto the walls and youngsters will sing along with festive songs.

Other key attractions at The Word include its free, semi-permanent exhibitions, which each run until 2020.

Amazing Space marks 50 years since man first set foot on the Moon, with the chance to view archive footage and space-inspired fiction, while Celebrating 25 years of The Customs House Pantomime does just that, by providing a glorious tribute to the ‘little panto with the big heart.’

And the festive period provides a last chance to visit The Word Bank of Lost Dialects; a celebration of the thousands of North East dialect words donated during The Word’s original Lost Dialects exhibition.

To check event items and ticket costs, where applicable and for more information, visit www.theworduk.org