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Tis the season…

Grab a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as we take you through the highlights of this year’s festive events in Yorkshire.

The pantomimes

This is the first time in 40 years that Berwick Kaler won’t be donning outrageous costumes for York Theatre Royal’s panto. The veteran dame hung up his wig last year, but he continues to write the scripts and the rest of the regulars including Martin Barrass and arch villain David Leonard will be back for Sleeping Beauty.

Also worth a watch will be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Alhambra Theatre. With Paul Chuckle joining panto veteran Billy Pearceh on stage this year, the Alhambra might just have found the perfect panto double act.

Harrogate Theatre is also staging Snow White and for those keen to see how it’s done there is also an opportunity for a backstage tour.

Sleeping Beauty, York Theatre Royal, December 7th to January 20th, yorktheatreroyal.co.uk; Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, December 14th to January 26th, bradford-theatres.com; Snow White, Harrogate Theatre, November 27th to January 19th (backstage tours December 12th to January 2nd), harrogatetheatre.co.uk   

The Christmas shows

If there’s one show guaranteed to get you in the festive feeling it’s The Wizard of Oz, which is why we can’t wait to see Leeds Playhouse’s version. It’s the perfect way to mark the first Christmas since its impressive makeover and with artistic director James Brining at the helm we should all be in for a treat.

When it comes to Christmas shows, Northern Ballet never skimp on the glitz. This year they are bringing Cinderella to the stage of Leeds Grand Theatre so be prepared to lose yourself in a completely magical winter wonderland.

If you have never seen her before, can we suggest you try to catch one of Kate Rusby’s Christmas shows. She’s known as the Barnsley Nightingale with good reason and her December concerts are guaranteed to get you feeling festive.

The Wizard of Oz, Leeds Playhouse, November 20th to January 25th, leedsplayhouse.com; Cinderella, Leeds Grand Theatre, December 17th to January 2nd, leedsgrandtheatre.com; Kate Rusby, various December dates in Huddersfield, Sheffield, Leeds and York, katerusby.com

For little ones

If you got young children make sure you get tickets for the Snow Mouse and if you haven’t maybe try borrowing one for the afternoon as this is going to be special. When children wake a sleeping mouse buried under snow flakes they decide to explore the winter wonderland together. Shamelessly feelgood.

York Theatre Royal’s show for little ones, The Storm Wale, is based on Benji Davies’ award-winning books. One summer Noi rescues a little whale that washes up on the beach and so begins a friendship which changes both of their lives forever.

Adapted by the brilliant Mike Kenny, Sheffield Studio Theatre will be introducing younger audiences to the classic Grimm’s fairy tale The Elves and the Shoemaker. With music, puppetry and a large helping of theatrical magic this is definitely one for your diary.

Snow Mouse, Leeds Playhouse, December 10th to December 21st, leedsplayhouse.co.uk; The Storm Wale, York Theatre Royal, December 14th to January 5th, yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

The film screenings

There’s a festive double bill at Leeds Town Hall with Prokofieve’s Peter and the Wolf and the Raymond Briggs’s classic The Shoemaker coming to the big screen. The animations are fabulous, but best of all the iconic scores will be performed by a full symphony orchestra, and the unforgettable Walking in the Air, will be sung live by a member of Opera North’s Youth Company.

Back by popular demand, Kenneth Branagh’s The Winter’s Tale returns to cinemas this December. Beautifully reimagined and boasting a stellar cast, including Yorkshire’s own Dame Judi Dench this is how Shakespeare should be done.

Sometimes the old ones are the best. At Cottage Road Cinema in Leeds there’s a chance to wind back to the golden age of Hollywood with Bing Crosby’s brilliant White Christmas.

Peter and the Wolf & The Snowman, December 22nd, Leeds Town Hall, leedstownhall.co.uk; The Winter’s Tale, various cinemas including Ilkley Cinema, December 4th to 6th, ilkleycinema.co.uk; White Christmas, December 18th, Cottage Road Cinema, cottageroad.co.uk

Meet Father Christmas

Castle Howard looks spectacular at any time of the year, but when it’s lavish decorations go up there’s even more of a reason to visit. As well as festive themed rooms there is also a chance to get up close and personal with Father Christmas, who’ll be telling stories and handing out presents.

The festive celebrations get bigger each year at Harewood House. This year they are going all out with the decorations which have been designed by artistic duo Davy and Kristy McGuire and little ones will also have the chance to meet Father Christmas, Mrs Christmas and Candy the Elf who are spending the run up to the big day in a cottage on the estate. 

Castle Howard, various times from November 23rd to December 23rd, castlehoward.co.uk; Harewood House, Christmas runs from November 23rd to January 5th, Father Christmas will be there from November 30th to December 15th, castlehoward.co.uk

The Christmas markets

These days pretty much every town and city has its own dedicated Christmas market selling German bratwurst by the tonne throughout December. In Yorkshire we are spoilt for choice, but here at Beyond we do have a few favourites.

The extravaganza which takes over Leeds’ Millennium Square is hard to beat. The Chriskindelmarkt is always very busy so be prepared for a bit of a crush, but be patient and once you are settled in the impressive Ski Hutte which brings a little Alpine atmosphere to the city you’ll quickly forget about the queues.

St Nicholas Fair in York is also a good bet. It features all the usual stalls you’d expect from a Christmas market, but don’t miss the Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Gifts where you can find presents made in God’s own county.

Chriskindelmarkt, Leeds, November 8th to December 21st, millsqleeds.com; St Nicholas Fair, York, November 14 to December 22nd, visityork.org

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