Bowes Museum defends festive events line-up over claims it has 'cancelled Christmas'

The Bowes Museum has made changes to its website to highlight Christmas-related elements of its programme. Credit: PA

The Bowes Museum has refuted claims it has "cancelled Christmas" following a change to the wording of its December line-up.

The Barnard Castle museum has renamed its 'Christmas Market' to 'Winter Market' - and this year will not be hosting Santa in his grotto.

In a statement from a museum on Tuesday, a spokesperson said: "Contrary to reports, the Bowes Museum has not cancelled Christmas-related activities this December.

"Festive events and activities will take place in December for everyone to enjoy. We changed the name of the market because we organise the museum’s events seasonally – spring, summer, autumn and winter – and we often have more than one market each year."

They added that the grotto would not be taking place this year due to "gallery developments", ready for opening in 2024.

The museum's defence follows a series of comments bemoaning the line-up rebranding, including from antiques expert David Harper and North West Durham MP Richard Holden.

On Monday, Mr Holden labelled the change as "absurd", adding: “It is ridiculous to think that people who aren’t Christian would feel excluded going to a Christmas market.

"Changing the name can only drive a unanimously negative reaction - as we have seen over the last few days."


The Conservative politician called for the museum to "help save" Christmas by retracting the name change.

"For me, a 'winter market' conjures up images of a dreary, empty, drab place where you’d be lucky to find parents purchasing a piece of coal for badly behaved children," he added.

Previously, TV presenter Mr Harper, criticised the Bowes Museum in a video posted from his account on X, formerly Twitter.

He begins the video by saying: "You couldn't make it up could you?" He then goes on to call the decision "nothing but divisive", rejecting the idea that the change could be inclusive.

The Bowes Museum said it had made changes to its website to highlight the Christmas-related elements of its programme.

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