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singer, songwriter, comedian, author, poet, broadcaster and multi-instrumentalist

Christmas in Yorkshire


“Nowhere are the traditions of Christmas kept up with such splendour
as in Yorkshire.”

That’s what a visitor to the county wrote in 1812. To find out if it is still true today, Mike Harding sets out to explore the many and varied ways in which Christmas is celebrated across the three Ridings. En route he discovers the unique role Yorkshire has played in both the origins and development of Christmas festivities in Britain.

Now you can join Mike on his magical journey in song and story with this special 70-minute DVD due to be
released in November 2010.

In the snow-covered Yorkshire Dales, Hawes Silver Prize Band and East Witton Male Voice Choir entertain us with the Yorkshire version of While Shepherds Watched, while Leyburn Ladies Choir offer their uniquely local Wensleydale Carol. There’s more special seasonal music from the Bridlington Fiddler, Jim Eldon, with the East Riding setting of Unto Us a Child is Born, and from renowned traditional acapella trio, Coope, Boyes and Simpson, with another Yorkshire Christmas song, this one peculiar to the Sheffied area, Three Jolly Miners.

In pursuit of further Yorkshire Christmas traditions, Mike joins the Grenoside Sword Dancers as they “traipse” around South Yorkshire, catches up with Knaresborough Mummers on their annual tour of the Vale of York and experiences the unique Village Carols of the South Pennines at the Black Bull, Ecclesfield.

On the East coast he discovers that the first turkeys to enter Britain came courtesy of a Yorkshireman who brought them home from the Americas to Boynton, near Bridlington in 1542: a fact celebrated by the presence of a lectern in the shape of a turkey in the village church.



Everybody knows that the turkey went on to become the centrepiece of the British Christmas dinner but Mike learns from Michelin-starred East Yorkshire chef James Mackenzie that by the 18th century they were an essential ingredient of the Yorkshire Christmas Pie.

On a visit to Haworth Parsonage he’s surprised to find that Christmas for the Yorkshire’s Bronte sisters was pretty dull in comparison to that portrayed in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, while excitement reigns as Mike watches 100 four and five year olds perform an almost traditional Nativity play in Cottingham, near Hull.


In Malton, North Yorkshire, local celebrity Selina Scott explains the part the town played in inspiring Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol – the novel credited with defining the way we spend Christmas today. Mike also visits York Minster to learn of the part the city played in the development of Christianity, and how the Winter Solstice and the Roman festival of Saturnalia were assimilated into the Christian celebration of Christmas.

The DVD will be released on November 15 and will be available from the Dalesman magazine, Tourist Information Centres in York, Beverley, Bridlington, Humber Bridge, Halifax and Hebden Bridge, selected independent record shops,  HMV shops and website, Amazon and Play.Com