Durham Christmas Festival is planning a very different event this year, replacing the huge and busy marquee on Palace Green with a virtual one, with the aim of encouraging shoppers to visit a selection of independent traders’ websites while Christmas shopping from the comfort of their home.

With support from City of Durham Parish Council, Durham Christmas Festival is set to transform its website into an online marquee with access to the ‘stalls’ of 50 regular Christmas Festival traders, including homemade food and drink, handcrafted gifts and art, clothing, accessories and homewares.  The virtual festival will run from 27 November to 6 December at www.durhamchristmasfestival.com .

Colin Wilkes, Managing Director of Durham Markets Company which co-organises the Christmas Festival each year, said: “This year, more than ever, it’s vitally important to spend money with independent businesses in the run up to Christmas.  So many of these businesses have been denied their usual seasonal opportunities so we want to bring them to the shoppers.  And we’d like to say thank you in advance to everyone who visits the Virtual Christmas Festival and makes a difference by buying with these small businesses.

“We’re working closely with City of Durham Parish Council to provide an alternative platform for some of our regular Festival traders.  Independent businesses have proved their resilience this year with their ongoing commitment to their customers.  Now’s time for us all to back them as we shop for Christmas.”

Chair of the City of Durham Parish Council, Cllr Elizabeth Scott said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with our colleagues at Durham Markets Company this year to bring everyone in Durham and beyond this virtual Christmas Fair.

“Durham City’s Christmas market has become not only one of the most popular annual activities of the Holiday Season and an annual tradition for many families, but is also a key time where traders are able to showcase and sell their products to shoppers.  A number of small, handmade, and family-owned businesses usually rely on local fairs and events for their seasonal sales and we are keen to ensure that Covid-19 does not put a stop to this. This year more than ever, people are in need of some Festive cheer and having seen some of the gifts and products for the virtual market this year, all I can say is that everyone is in for a real treat. I hope that everyone far and wide will take part in this fantastic virtual event and support our amazing Independents this Christmas”.