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  1. Robert Townsend

Weekend Picks: A free Christmas at the Castle

Throughout December: Stafford Castle and Visitor Centre, Newport Road

First built by William the Conqueror to subdue the rebellious population, the Castle here has dominated the Stafford skyline for over 900 years, and over 900 Christmases.

Now you can uncover the secrets of the ancient site through the Norman times, the medieval period, the English Civil War and right up to the present day, as part of an alternative Christmas experience.

Take a walk through the castle woodland and solve a Christmas riddle for a chance to be entered in to a free festive prize draw.

Cookies and hot chocolate will be available in the visitor centre throughout the free event and there are some unique gifts available with all proceeds helping to maintain this impressive symbol of our regions heritage.

  1. Robert Townsend

Weekend picks: Christmas is Cancelled once again

Newark: National Civil War Centre, Sunday December 11th

Chiefs at the National Civil War Centre in Newark will be putting away the mince pies this weekend as a Parliamentarian civil war regiment takes up residence - but don't worry, it's only a re-enactment.

The Robert Overton's Regiment Foote group will be laying on a day of musket firing as part of the Newark Christmas Market celebrations.

Costumed re-enactors will patrol the town's streets, mixing with revellers at the day-long winter event, which features over 80 stalls.

Back in the 1600s Christmas was banned in the East Midlands under a clampdown by the regime of controversial political leader Oliver Cromwell.

Bah humbug!

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  1. Robert Townsend

Weekend Picks: Grand Theatre Pantomime Exhibition

Wolverhampton: Saturday December 10th until January 22nd.

This weekend sees the opening of a new free exhibition celebrating the history of pantomime in the region, with a focus on its importance to many at Christmas time.

The event takes place at Wolverhampton's Light House Media Centre and coincides with the opening day of this seasons Aladdin production.

Visitors will get the chance to look at over 120 years of Grand Theatre pantomime history and a display of traditional costumes dating back to 1894.

Panto fans can take a stroll down the hand sewn magical patchwork carpet until January 22nd.

  1. Anglia

TV presenter Clare Balding shares her Olympic and Paralympic stories with schoolchildren

Clare Balding talks to schoolchildren

TV presenter Clare Balding has been sharing her Olympic and Paralympic stories with more than 150 school children in Northampton.

She gave a talk at Paralympic gold medallist, Ellie Robinson's, primary school in the town.

Clare Balding is visiting schools across the country to promote her new book.

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Weekend Picks: Leamington Lantern Parade

Leamington: December 4th, 4:00pm-6:00pm

Join in and bring along your handmade lanterns to light up Royal Leamington Spa this weekend.

The colourful annual event brings the community and visitors together in a creative way to share in the spirit of Christmas.

Meet new people, create something wonderful and have a fun, magical evening lighting up the Regency town centre.

The parade sets off from the Bandstand at approximately 4.30pm and is e accompanied by a local band and performers and will finish with Christmas carols around the Tree of Lights at the town hall. How do I make my own lantern?

  1. Robert Townsend

Weekend Picks: Haunted Heritage Evening

Leicester: Sat 3rd - Sun 4th December

Donington Le Heath Manor House is one of the oldest houses in England. It is believed that Robert De Herle bought the land and had the house built between 1258 & 1295.

For nearly 700 years the house remained a family dwelling but in the early part of the 16th Century, the house may have been owned by a close friend of Guy Fawkes.

In 1963 the house was purchased by Leicestershire County Council and the building was restored and opened to the public as a museum. There is said to be the ghosts of a housemaid and also a man of 17th Century appearance with a tall brimmed hat.

  1. Robert Townsend

Weekend Picks: A Right Royal Day Out

Saturday December 3rd: King Richard III Visitor Centre, Leicester

On Saturday 3rd December the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester will be hosting 'Fit For A King' wreath-making workshops, led by Rosemary Hughes, the official 'nosegay' provider to the Queen. Rosemary also provided the floral arrangements for the reinternment of King Richard III.

All materials are provided to create your own door or table wreath with expert instruction from Rosemary, refreshments and a tour of the visitor centre. The skill level required is basic and the workshop is suitable for those aged over 12 years.

Places at the workshop are limited so book now.

  1. Robert Townsend

Weekend Picks: Christmas at Chatsworth

Derbyshire: Various days & evenings until January 3rd.

Step into an enchanting winter wonderland this Christmas season as Chatsworth House prepares to welcome visitors for a month of fun and festivities.

A production of the timeless favourite, 'The Nutcracker’ will be sure to get you in the mood for the yuletide as they join forces with the Buxton Opera House to showcase a classic.

Combine your house and garden visit with a traditional afternoon tea in the 18th century stables or take a winter walk through the grounds and farmyard.

Christmas at Chatsworth.

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