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Things to Do 3 & 4 December
From Castle Howard at Christmas trees to heavenly angels and test riding a new bike
It’s the first weekend of December and Christmas is coming round fast and with it plenty of things to help get you in the mood – here are four ideas of things to do in Ryedale’s beautiful market towns this weekend.
Angel festival - Helmsley - Saturday 3 December
Helmsley’s Angel Festival launches on Saturday 3 December, to coincide with Small Business Saturday, and promises five hours of festive fun, games and activities for all the family. With a schedule as full as Santa’s sack, highlights include book signings from two famous authors, proclamations from the newly appointed town crier, animal displays, brass bands, choirs, a temporary ice rink at the Black Swan Hotel, fancy dress, rides including a Christmas Pudding ‘rodeo’ and swing boats, games, and food tastings. Running from 10.15am until 3.15pm, Ryedale District Council have reduced car parking charges at Cleveland Way to all day for just £1.50.
The event also marks the start of the town’s very first Angel Festival, which will see Helmsley taken over by hordes of heavenly angels until the Twelfth Night. To launch the event on 3 December, there will be a special #helmsangels competition, where people are invited to dress up or decorate their bike, mobility scooter, wheelchair or pet in an angel theme to win prizes. A town-wide search for a missing angel – Rory – also encourages visitors to snap a selfie with the cheeky chap, and send it to the town via social media (@VisitHelmsley) for the chance to win. See notes to editors for the day’s itinerary.
Collections are also starting for the second phase of a campaign to help Ryedale Food Bank replenish its stock during the hard winter months. Donations of soup, sponge puddings, tins of potatoes or instant mash, UHT Juice, tinned meat, toiletries and hot water bottles will be gratefully received at any Helmsley in Business member.
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.
A Victorian Christmas at Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole - 3 & 4 December
On 3 and 4 December, Ryedale Folk Museum will open its doors for free to the public, giving visitors an opportunity to find out about how the Victorians celebrated Christmas. With children’s crafts and traditional craft demonstrations, the Museum will come to life with festive fun for all the family. Green Father Christmas or ‘Old Winter’ will meet children, whilst sat by the fire in one of the Museum’s most characterful old buildings. There will be plenty of opportunities for photographs and each child will receive a small gift from Old Winter’s present chest.
In addition, visitors can see a Bird of Prey Display by Thirsk Bird of Prey Centre, have a go at archery with the Whitby Archers (Saturday only) and see demonstrations of blacksmithing and rag-rugging. The Cleveland Fibre Arts group will be showing weaving and spinning. There will be demonstrations from the Heirloom Quilters. On Saturday at 11.00am, the Levisham and Lockton Handbell Group will perform. Children’s craft and Victorian ‘dress-up’ will take place throughout the weekend.
The Museum will be free of charge to visitors 3 and 4 December and open between 10am and 4pm. The cost for each child to meet Green Father Christmas is £3.00.
Test ride a bike for Christmas: kids on bikes – not just a toy! Pickering and Malton
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 we 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).
Purchase the perfect Christmas tree – Duncombe Park estate Helmsley
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.
Helmsley’s Angel Festival Itinerary – 3 December
10.15am: Town Crier
10.30 – 11am: Community Choir
11am – #helmsangels competition – prizes for the best Angel Fancy dress – decorate your mobility scooter, pet, husband or bike in the #helmsangels theme
11.15am – 12noon: Swinton Brass Band
12noon: Book signing with the Yorkshire Vet, Julian Norton, at Claridges
12noon – 3pm: Entertainment mini stage in the market place, with Adam Collier’s Yorkshire Dialect stories, busking, ukuleles and brass band carols
1.30pm: Book signing of ‘Deadly Diplomacy’ with local crime writer Jean Harrod at Cut Price Books
2- 3pm: Father Christmas on his sleigh, thanks to Ryedale Lions
2.30pm: Snow White – the Helmsley Arts Centre Panto matinee performance (tickets on sale now)
3.15pm: Close with Town Crier.
Throughout the day:
- Christmas Pudding “rodeo” competition – £1 to enter, or free to try
- Admire the hosts of Angels as the town’s month-long Angel Festival begins
- “Where’s Rory?” angel hunt photo competition #helmsangels
- Angel halo hooping game
- Angel wishing tree for those we miss at Christmas
- Take your photo with the award-winning Town Crier from Dad’s Army
- Pop-up Ice rink & outdoors mulled wine bar at the Black Swan Hotel
- Otterburn Mangalitzas – come and see the famous hairy pigs & meat also available for sale
- Pet the alpacas
- Warm up in the Community Library where kids’ activities will take place all morning
- Head to the Helmsley Walled Garden stand for green-fingered tips
- Vintage tractors
- Swing boats
- Marley’s BBQ
- Duncombe Sawmill display area with wooden Christmas decorations to decorate and a traditional Finnish wooden game to play
- In-store promotions, “try before you buy” tastings and sipping’s, demonstrations, complimentary refreshments, competitions & angel displays across Helmsley’s many small businesses
Entry to the event is free and all are welcome to join in the fun.