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Things to Do 10 & 11 December
From street food to street theatre and Christmas angels in flight
Two weeks to go! Here’s how to make the most of the Christmas build-up in Ryedale’s beautiful market towns this weekend.
It’s the big one! The Christmas Food Festival - Malton, Saturday 10 December
Malton’s monthly food market is one of Yorkshire’s most renowned food markets and in December it’s the Christmas special! It is popular with all those who care about where their food is sourced and is loved by local foodies, chefs and keen amateur cooks. There will be live cooking demos, live music and the freshest local produce that makes the atmosphere so special. The market runs from 9am-3pm with Talbot Yard Food court open later.
Watch a slightly barking Victorian show – Malton, Saturday 10 December
‘Penny Plain Victorian street theatre (from Grassington) will perform a unique, funny and slightly barking Victorian show for people to enjoy. Expect drama, traditional carols and mummery. Free.
See Christmas angels in flight – Helmsley, Saturday 10 December
For an awe-inspiring and unforgettable experience (you may even shed a tear of joy): you can’t beat special winter owl evenings, where the large owls of Helmsley’s National Bird of Prey Centre become stars of the show, flying free through woodland lit only by torchlight – like magical Christmas angels! The evening also includes a flying demonstration of the tiny owls by candlelight in Christmas Tree Cottage, a guided tour, a mulled wine or hot, spiced apple juice and a two-course meal with coffee.
This very special evening runs from 7pm and ends at around 9.45pm. The evenings are suitable for children aged 8 and over. Please wear warm, sensible clothes, and bring a torch! Tickets are £30 each. Places are limited. Book advised! The National Bird of Prey Centre in Helmsley has the largest collection of birds of prey in the North, from the tiny Burrowing Owl to the majestic Steller’s Sea Eagle.
Start cooking. Go on a Christmas cookery course – Malton, Sunday 11 December
If the pressure of cooking the most important meal of the year is getting to you, or you want time out from the chaos at home – book yourself onto a friendly, specialist day course at Malton Cookery School, Yorkshire’s Capital of Food. Nothing is forgotten, and these courses have been described by grateful home chefs as ‘magic’ – best of all you go home with deliciously prepared food that you can pop into the freezer, ready for the big day!:
- Sunday 11 December: Ultimate Christmas
- Also Sunday 18 December: Christmas Pies and Puddings
Christmas at Castle Howard - daily until Friday 23 December
Castle Howard has a reputation for putting on one of the finest displays in the country, featuring many Christmas trees, and tens of thousands of baubles, fairy lights and candles.
Unusual additions to this year’s displays are a giant gingerbread model of Castle Howard, a Christmas tree made entirely out of books, an aromatic display in the Antiques Passage, where herbs and candles will create a multi-sensory experience, and a wrapping room, decorated with bows and gift-wrap to show some of the preparations for Christmas. A Venetian theme has taken over the Crimson Dining Room, with a table festooned with opulent gold and red, whilst the Octagon Room has perhaps the most unusual display – an inverted, suspended Christmas tree with golden roots!
Following tradition, perhaps the most ornately decorated tree in the county will be displayed in the Great Hall – a 22ft spruce covered with thousands of lights and baubles – where roaring fires will be lit every day during the run up to Christmas to fill the room with the scent of pine and open fires.
The huge architectural gingerbread model of Castle Howard has been made by London-based architectural foodsmiths, Bompas & Parr. The enormous confection is four metres by three metres, and depicts not only the famous house, complete with its dome and the parterre garden envisaged by Vanbrugh, but also by many of the architectural features found in the 10,000 acre estate, including the Temple of the Four Winds, Mausoleum and the 7th Earl’s monument. The windows of the house are illuminated, and just like at the real Castle Howard, and miniature trees will descend from Ray Wood to create a perfect winter scene.
There’s a delicious menu of festive food and drink, and if you’ve been inspired by the Christmas decorations inside, then the Castle Howard shops sell one of the best collections of Christmas decorations – and especially designer baubles to dress up your tree - in Yorkshire.
Test ride a bike for Christmas: kids on bikes – not just a toy!
It’s a Christmas kids’ tradition – getting your Christmas bike. Ryedale’s market towns have some of the UK’s best cycling on their doorsteps, whether it’s the world-class MTB trails of Dalby Forest, Britain’s best wild moorland trail rides, family-friendly rides in the gentle Howardian Hills, or following the route of the Tour de Yorkshire, Britain’s most popular road race! So it’s not surprising they also have two of the region’s best cycle shops: in Ryedale, you can buy your bike, then really use it to its maximum potential! Big Bear Bikes in Pickering and Northern Ride in Malton are both large and friendly stores, with expert teams offering a specialist bike fitting service, and a phenomenal range of bikes in stock at any one time for both road and mountain biking, and including a great range of lightweight, easy-to-ride options for children, and all imaginable related kit. You can also test-ride as many bikes as you like before you buy (unlike many city-based cycle shops).
Get the perfect Christmas tree
The connoisseur’s choice is a tree from the historic Duncombe Park estate in Helmsley. All trees are lovingly cared for, year-round, in their Christmas nurseries by a skilled team, with cultivation techniques that encourage nature conservation. With a choice of needlefast pines, fine firs, and stunning spruces available from the beginning of December, they are only sold within two miles of the estate, and are also cut fresh the day before they are sold, ensuring that they are in pristine condition. These pampered trees will require the very best decorations, so head for Castle Howard’s Christmas Shop, with its outstanding range of unique and designer baubles.
Stock up the drink cabinet:
Ryedale excels in booze – and not just your average tipples! Whether you’re seeking beer, wine, cider or spirits, you’ll find a huge variety of local choice: independent, handcrafted, distinctive and award-winning:
- Ampleforth Abbey hand picks and hand-presses their own apples, to make award-winning cider brewed from a traditional Benedictine recipe - and also a sinfully delicious cider brandy. The area was once known as the ‘Orchard of the North’, and many local villages and garden attractions are now restoring their ancient orchards to produce ciders and juices, inspired by Ampleforth!
- The region has several top breweries: in Malton, the Brass Castle Brewery is CAMRA award-winning and in demand across the UK, while the town’s Bad Seed Brewery is amongst Yorkshire’s best craft breweries, its growing popularity in cities across the UK meaning the brewery’s already had to move premises to keep up with demand. The Great Yorkshire Brewery in Cropton near Pickering has been producing award-winning, hand-crafted real ales for over 25 years and it’s a regional success story with its bottled beers now sold internationally. Helmsley Brewing Company design their range of craft beers using the finest ingredients (including Yorkshire Malts and English hop) and traditional techniques.
- Ryedale Vineyards produces wines that are winning international awards from their Yorkshire grapes, and also fresh fruit, juice and cider from the farm’s orchards. The vineyard is also Britain’s most northerly commercial vineyard.
- SLOEmotion, in Barton le Willows near Malton harvests the hedgerow to produce its multi-award winning fruit liqueurs, such as SLOE gin, vodka, brandy and whisky. They use traditional techniques with high concentrations of hand-picked wild fruit to create fabulous flavours, and nothing goes to waste, with the spent fruit used to produce chocolate truffles and chutneys.