Schoolchildren from across County Durham are being invited to help Bishop Auckland shine brighter this festive season.

The Auckland Project has distributed 4,000 lantern kits to 30 schools in Bishop Auckland, Spennymoor, Shildon, Coundon, and Willington, encouraging students to decorate them for Bishop Auckland’s Christmas Light Switch-on, on Friday, December 1.

The event, organised by Bishop Auckland Town Council has a theme of ‘1,000 Christmas Lights,’ with visitors invited to bring their own torches, lamps and lanterns to fill the Market Place.

To help bring this about, The Auckland Project has been working with nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools from across the area, distributing specially designed lantern kits, for students to build, decorate and bring along.

The lanterns represent the history of Auckland Castle, the Deer Park and the forthcoming Faith Museum, which all form part of The Auckland Project’s plans to create a world-class visitor attraction in Bishop Auckland.

To link with the lantern’s themes, the schools also received an activity pack offering students the opportunity to have a go at creating pine-cone reindeers, learn about Medieval Christmases and explore celebrations of light in different faiths.

Debra Nichol, Education Officer, The Auckland Project said: “The lantern activity packs have been a great way for us to engage with so many young people and we’re thrilled to be supporting such a wonderful community event

“It’s a great opportunity to bring all ages together and we’d love to see as many young people as possible at the Christmas Lights switch-on with their lanterns.”

The switch-on event begins at 5pm, with Santa Claus switching the Christmas lights on at 6pm.

The event will also feature the unveiling of the first Bishop Auckland Advent Window, with a new decorated window opened in the town every day in the run-up to Christmas.

Bishop Auckland Advent Windows has been organised by David and Pam Pott, in partnership with Bishop Auckland Town Team and each of the windows will be themed around a different Christmas Carol or song.

No.42 in Bishop Auckland Market Place, part of The Auckland Project, is one of 24 local businesses and organisations taking part and will unveil its window display on December 16.

For a full rundown of times for the lights switch-on event visit Bishop Auckland Town Council’s Facebook page, and for details on how to get involved with The Auckland Project visit: http://www.aucklandcastle.org/special-page/learn-with-us/