Christmas News

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Our Christmas News icon is happily dancing away in the bottom corner of the How to Christmas home page and is the place to find updates on all things festive. In case you missed anything in recent months, we have collated some of the best news snippets here for you in one convenient place…our Christmas News Centre. We can’t have you missing out.

John Lewis Presents Excitable Edgar

Excitable Edgar is the star of this year’s John Lewis Christmas advertisement and his seasonal adventure is available to view online now at johnlewis.com. The big reveal of the John Lewis ad is increasingly event television. This year is the first time John Lewis has combined with its partners at Waitrose to release a festive commercial and we believe it is one of the best yet. Bastille frontman Dan Smith sings REO Speedwagon’s 1985 power ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling” to accompany the dragon’s fiery story.

The John Lewis website reads: “Edgar, an adorable young dragon, is so excited about Christmas that he cannot control the flames from his mouth. He even burns the village Christmas tree, dampening everyone’s Christmas spirit. But when his best friend Ava gives him a thoughtful gift just right for an excitable dragon, he realises how much she cares for him.”

Trafalgar Square Market

Trafalgar Square is home to London’s iconic Christmas tree and now, for the first time, it also hosts a Christmas market. There are more than thirty wooden chalets decorated with lights and ornaments, with festive food and drink aplenty. It is open from early November.

New Lights Display for Oxford Street

The Oxford Street Christmas lights switch-on event this year will take place on November 21, with a sparkling new display. The occasion helps set the scene for the festive season in the English capital, with live music and stunning illuminations. 2019 marks the 60th year the road has been decorated for Christmas and, for the first time in six years, visitors will have a fresh view because the giant lit baubles have been replaced by a spectacular digital lighting scheme. This has the environment more in mind thanks to 27 LED light curtains displaying curated content. The Oxford Street lights will be twinkling away until early January. Those recently given the honour of pushing the ‘switch-on’ button include Kylie Minogue, Rita Ora, The Spice Girls and Robbie Williams.

Virtual Cotswolds Advent Charm

For the tenth successive year, jacquielawson.com has produced an online Advent calendar full of festive charm. The 2019 offering is set in the beautiful Cotswolds in England, with 25 numbered ornaments revealing something new each day. There’s also a cosy second scene featuring games and other amusements. The main novelty this year is that you can scroll up and down as well as right and left, allowing you to peek behind even more buildings and discover more surprises. You can still purchase calendars from the last couple of years as well, at discounted prices. Check out jacquielawson.com.

Nespresso Advent First

Coffee lovers take note. Nespresso has launched its first Advent calendar to count you down to Christmas with a selection of flavoursome blends. It retails for £25 and, unusually, comes cube-shaped. The calendar includes blends from Nespresso’s festive collection, which draws inspiration from Parisian patisserie.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse

The must-have, must-buy book for Christmas 2019 is out – the enchanting, thought-provoking and inspirational work by Charlie Mackesy entitled “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse”. You are invited into the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, where you will discover some of life’s most important lessons. The inspirational conversations have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes and hung on hospital walls. In Charlie’s first book, there are some new illustrations to accompany those favourites. Among the celebrities to endorse the book is film director and writer Richard Curtis, who describes the book as “a wonderful work of art and a wonderful window into the human heart”. The book reminds us of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories of friendship and the curious wisdom in those timeless pages. “The Boy, The Mole…” is available at Waterstones.

Favourite Carol Vote Open

Voting will be open in December for the annual poll to find the UK’s favourite carol. You will simply have to visit classicfm.com to register your vote. The countdown commences on Christmas Day on the all-classical music radio station Classic FM. There will be Christmas music played on Classic FM throughout December.

Special Animations for Christmas

Two special animations for all the family are coming to BBC television this Christmas. “Mimi and the Mountain Dragon”, a children’s book by Sir Michael Morpurgo, has been turned into an animated feature. The author will introduce the story, which will be accompanied by music from Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman. In keeping with a recent BBC tradition, a Julia Donaldson children’s book is being brought to life for the small screen. “The Snail and the Whale” – about a snail who hitches a ride on a whale’s back in order to travel the world – will employ the voiceover talents of Sally Hawkins, Rob Brydon and Dame Diana Rigg.

Market Days in Harrogate

Harrogate Christmas Market takes place this year from November 14 – 17. Held on The Stray in the historic Montpellier Quarter of Harrogate town centre, this four-day festive market will be filled with quality Yorkshire products. It’s expected there will be around 200 stalls selling such fayre as Yorkshire cheeses and chutneys to handmade gifts and Christmas decorations. There’s also Santa’s Grotto and real reindeer to visit. More information can be found at harrogatechristmasmarket.org.

Snow Dragon & Growly Bear Arrive

A beloved growling bear and a snow dragon are set to bring joy to children up and down the land this Christmas. Sam McBratney, author of the treasured “Guess How Much I Love You”, has written an enchanting new book “The Most-Loved Bear” about best friends Growly Bear and Mary Rose. Illustrations are by Sam Usher. Waterstones describes it as “a warm, nostalgic tale about the enduring love between a child and their very favourite teddy bear – the perfect story for families to share.” Abi Elphinstone’s “The Snow Dragon” is also sure to charm, delivered as it is with delightful illustrations by Fiona Woodcock. Waterstones teases the story: “In Griselda Bone’s gloomy orphanage, daydreaming is banned, skipping is forbidden and Christmas is well and truly cancelled. But for Phoebe and her sausage dog Herb, is it possible that, just when things seem at their bleakest, magic awaits in the swirling, snow-filled air?”

Stonehaven Fireball Festival

The Stonehaven Fireball Festival on December 31 is one of the most spectacular in Scotland and takes place at the stroke of midnight on Hogmanay. During the procession 45 expert fireball swingers march through the town in Aberdeenshire, swinging a flaming metal cage, attached by a long wire handle, around their heads. This dazzling display lasts about 25 minutes before the swingers reach the harbour where they throw their flaming fireballs into the water, after which the procession is rounded off by a glorious fireworks display. Check out: visitscotland.com/info/events.

Liverpool’s Christmas Express

The Christmas Express comes to the Liverpool ONE shopping and leisure complex this festive season. Departing from a custom-built station on Chavasse Park, families can set off on a seasonal journey to the North Pole. Well, Liverpool’s version of it at least. There will several stops along the way, with music, dancing, story-time, crafts and refreshments. There will be Christmas gift stalls, too. The Polar Adventure lasts for between 30 and 45 minutes and is part of Liverpool ONE’s season of festive fun, which launches on November 15.

A Beary New Original Story

Here at How to Christmas, we are helping build the seasonal excitement with the release of a new children’s story entitled “A Beary Merry Christmas”.  Bramley Bear holds a talent competition to choose his new partner for the festive season at his store. There are more misses than hits. But one contestant stands out. Just as well, because she might just save Christmas for all. Read the full story now in Our Original Stories section.

Bring the Joy with Emma Bridgewater

British pottery brand Emma Bridgewater’s seasonal line includes wonderful new designs entitled “Bring the Joy”, “Winterberry”, “Christmas Brights”, “Winter Animals” and “Joy Trumpets”. Along with the mugs, plates, bakeware and jugs, there’s gift wrap and luxury crackers. Some of the products can be personalised. Check out the collection at emmabridgewater.co.uk.

Baby It’s a Change of Lyrics

American singer and pianist John Legend will be releasing a deluxe version of his Christmas album “A Legendary Christmas” on November 8 – and it contains a new take on a controversial song. The expanded collection will include four new tracks, among them a duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Kelly Clarkson that features updated lyrics by John and the comedian Natasha Rothwell. Certain lyrics in the 1940s song have caused controversy in light of the #MeToo movement. The debate grew last year when the Star 102 radio station in Cleveland, Ohio, removed the song from its playlist following complaints.

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas

Christmas is full of wonderful festive viewing on the big and small screen. But it also has its share of must-read books, perfect for those cosy winter nights in front of the sparkling tree and flickering fire. Adam Kay’s follow-up to last year’s “This is Going to Hurt” is entitled “Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas”, which bookstore Waterstones describes as “a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.” Kay delves back into his diaries to bring us more NHS-based stories, both heart-breaking and heart-warming.

Another best-selling author Sophie Kinsella delivers “Christmas Shopaholic”, a comedic novel revolving around Becky Brandon, her love of the season and how her Christmas spirit might just be tested by a change of tradition, as outlined by Waterstones: “With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear…Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?”

Trafalgar Square Lighting Ceremony

Christmas in London takes on extra significance each year with the lighting of the Trafalgar Square tree. The date for the 2019 tree lighting ceremony is December 5, following the tradition of the tree being lit on the first Thursday in December. People can gather in the square ahead of the switch-on at 6pm to see the ceremony, which dates back to 1947 when Norway gifted a tree to London in thanks for the support Britain offered the country during World War II.

Cheshire Oaks Cirque du Noel

The circus comes to Cheshire Oaks to ignite Christmas spirit in and around the designer shopping outlet in the Northwest of England. The lights switch-on event takes place on November 6 and is inspired by The Greatest Showman. There will be performances to thrill in “Cirque” and a fireworks display to round-off proceedings. For more information, go to mcarthurglen.com.

Cups of Festive Cheer

Counting down to Christmas means, among so many other things, seasonal favourites are back at Costa and Starbucks. Yes, coffee fiends and Christmas friends, it is that time once again. That means gingerbread lattes, eggnog lattes and all manner of other seasonal treats…red cups, Christmas motifs and more. Costa started early, introducing some of its Christmas flavours amid its autumn range of drinks in October. The full menu is rolled out on November 1, which is when you can also expect to see Starbucks in full festive flow. Costa’s cups have images of Santa, penguins, reindeer and bears and its menu includes Terry’s Chocolate Orange muffins, Peter Penguin shortcake and non-alcoholic Irish coffee.

Plastic-Free Crackers for Waitrose & Co

As part of plans to cut down on single-use plastic, Waitrose and John Lewis will stop selling Christmas crackers containing plastic toys from next year. For Christmas 2020 and beyond, the company’s crackers will be filled with toys made from recyclable materials and will be free of plastic glitter. Friends of the Earth welcomed the move but said it was “a shame” it could not happen earlier.

Animated Specials for Christmas

Two special animations for all the family are coming to BBC television this Christmas. “Mimi and the Mountain Dragon”, a children’s book by Sir Michael Morpurgo, has been turned into an animated feature. The author will introduce the story, which will be accompanied by music from Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman.

In keeping with a recent BBC tradition, a Julia Donaldson children’s book is being brought to life for the small screen. “The Snail and the Whale” – about a snail who hitches a ride on a whale’s back in order to travel the world – will employ the voiceover talents of Sally Hawkins, Rob Brydon and Dame Diana Rigg.

Louboutin Tree for Claridge’s

Claridge’s iconic Christmas tree has been designed this year by shoe designer Christian Louboutin and he will unveil his creation in the hotel lobby on November 21. Each year, Claridge’s asks one of its fashion friends to design the tree. It began in 2009 with John Galliano for Dior and last year Diane Von Furstenburg created the iridescent ‘Tree of Love’.

Fenwick’s Window Unveiled

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has been revealed as the theme for this year’s Christmas window display at Fenwick’s department store in Newcastle. Crowds gathered from mid-afternoon on November 1st for the unveiling, which revealed a series of windows dedicated to the wonderful Roald Dahl story. Fenwick’s first animated Christmas window display in 1971 brought Camberwick Green to life at the Northumberland Street shop. Since, the themes have included other classic stories such as “Peter Pan”, “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Snowman”.

Christmas Jumper Day 2019

Make a date in your diary for Christmas Jumper Day 2019. This year, it will be held on Friday December 13 and will once again be in aid of “Save the Children”, with 100% of proceeds going to the charity. The idea behind the annual event, in case you are among the uninitiated, is to wear a festive sweater on Christmas Jumper Day and donate money to the charity – be it a personal donation or from fund-raising activities organised through school, work, clubs and community groups. Go to christmasjumperday.org for more details.

Rockefeller Center Holiday Christmas Tree Lighting 2019 Gala

One of the world’s great Christmas trees will be illuminated this year on Wednesday December 4 at a televised ceremony in New York City. It will be adorned with some 50,000 LED lights and will remain lit until early January 2020. The annual gala is watched by millions on television and attended by thousands in person. The Norway spruce, which will be the 88th tree to grace the Plaza for the annual display, comes from the village of Florida in New York’s Orange County.

Last Christmas Soundtrack Release

“Last Christmas: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”, featuring the music of George Michael and Wham!, will be released on November 8. The playlist, of course, includes “Last Christmas” – along with a remastered version of “Faith” and a live recording of “Praying for Time”. There is also a new, previously unheard, song by the late Michael called “This Is How (We Want You to Get High)”.

Food & Gifts Lincolnshire Style

Lincolnshire Showground is the venue for the county’s annual festive food and gift fair, which takes place this year on November 30 & December 1. Organised by the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, there are expected to be 150 exhibitors selling local produce. There’s also Christmas storytelling, crafts, baking and an appearance by Father Christmas and his reindeer. More seasonal food to delight on our Food & Drink page, plus gift ideas aplenty in our Gifts & Wrapping section.

Idina Menzel’s Season of Love

Celebrated singer Idina Menzel is anticipating a special Christmas. Not only will “Frozen 2” bring her vocal talents back into the limelight from mid-November, but she is also releasing a festive solo album entitled “Christmas: A Season of Love”. It was released on October 18. Menzel is best known for her role in “Wicked” on Broadway and for starring in animated film “Frozen”, in which she sings the now iconic “Let It Go”. Ariane Grande will join Idina in an original duet on her Christmas album called “A Hand for Mrs Claus”, written by “Let It Go” songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

Jersey Christmas Festival

La Fête dé Noué welcomes in the Christmas season in Jersey with a spectacular of festive events in St Helier on November 22. Translated from the old Norman-French language simply as ‘Christmas Festival,’ parades, Christmas lights, festive films, street theatre and markets brimming with treats and gifts bring Christmas cheer.

Bing’s New White Christmas

Bing Crosby’s family are releasing a new collection of the legendary crooner’s seasonal songs and hope “White Christmas” might take the coveted top spot in the UK singles chart at Christmas for the first time. The re-worked version of the classic song, featuring Bing’s original vocals and the backing of the London Symphony Orchestra, will be included on “Bing At Christmas”, which is released on November 22. “White Christmas” reached a highest chart position of number five in 1977. There will also be a version of “White Christmas” on the album featuring vocal group Pentatonix. Written by Irving Berlin in 1942, it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song after appearing in the film “Holiday Inn”. It is the best-selling Christmas song of all time.

Aled’s Christmas Cracker

Aled Jones presents a concert of seasonal classics, festive readings and joyful song at London’s Barbican this Christmas, including a selection of favourite carols for all. Conducted by Adrian Lucas and with guest soprano Jennifer France, songs will include Willcocks’ “Jingle Bells”, Cullen’s “Joy to the World ”and Blake’s “Walking in the Air”. It all takes place on December 23.

The 2019 London Festival will run at the Barbican Centre from December 16, kicking off with Christmas with King’s College Choir and concluding on January 1 with the New Year’s Day Prom. For more details visit barbican.org.uk.

Robbie Williams Christmas Album

Robbie Williams is to release his first Christmas album, featuring special guest artists such as Sir Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams. The double album of festive covers and original songs is Robbie’s 13th studio album, but his first dedicated to Christmas. It will be called “The Christmas Present”. The news comes after it was revealed that Robbie will sing the theme song for Channel 4’s Christmas television adaptation of classic children’s book “The Tiger Who Came To Tea”, entitled “Hey Tiger!” Robbie reached the UK’s coveted Christmas No.1 spot in the charts in 2001 with “Something’ Stupid”, sung with Australian actress Nicole Kidman.

NEC Festive Gift Fair

Tickets are on sale for the Festive Gift Fair at the NEC in Birmingham – an event that takes place from November 14-17. The indoor shopping fair boasts musical entertainment and more than 300 stalls full of seasonal gifts, decorations and artisan food and drink. For more, go to festivegiftfair.co.uk.

Mariah’s Deluxe Anniversary Album

Mariah Carey is releasing a special deluxe version of her “Merry Christmas” album to mark its 25th anniversary. It features re-mixes, tracks from the 2010 follow-up album “Merry Christmas II You” and previously unreleased live tracks from her 1994 performance at the Cathedral of St John the Divine. “All I Want for Christmas is You” has been a perennial hit for Mariah since its first seasonal airing, regularly reappearing in the singles charts. The album release date is November 1.

The Best of Festive Fizz

A £10 bottle of prosecco from supermarket Morrisons has been named the best for Christmas 2019 after a blind taste test of festive fayre by Good Housekeeping magazine. The Best DOCG Conegliano Valdobbladene Prosecco Superiore beat Harvey Nichols’ Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, priced at £16, in to second place. Tesco won the most categories in the taste test, including first place for meat stuffing, gluten-free mince pies, vegetarian mains and Christmas ham.

Sunflower Trees Trend

Want a good guide to 2019 Christmas home décor trends? If so, it is worth taking note of what’s happening on Pinterest. Its research puts bright sunflower Christmas trees high on the trending list. Floral Christmas trees have been popular for a few years, but there appears to be a particular honing in on yellow sunflower themes. Also trending are ‘Zero-Waste Ideas’. With more attention being paid to the environment, zero-waste party decorations have increased by more than 80 percent, while fabric gift wrap is becoming increasingly sought out as part of a sustainable Christmas. Explore away on pinterest.co.uk.

Guy’s a Scrooge for TV Special

Guy Pearce is to star as Ebenezer Scrooge in the new BBC One and FX adaptation of the timeless Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol”. The three-part special will air over Christmas 2019. The original take on the iconic ghost story comes courtesy of writer and executive producer Steven Knight, of “Peaky Blinders” success, and also features Andy Serkis as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, Charlotte Riley as Lottie, Joe Alwyn as Bob Cratchit and Rutger Hauer as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Directed by Nick Murphy, the three hour-long programmes will be shown on the BBC in the UK and FX in the US.

Hamleys Top 10 Toys

Toy retailer Hamleys has revealed its top 10 toys and games for Christmas 2019 – a list that combines educational gifts, collectibles and old favourites with a technological twist. Toys that encourage children to play, develop and grow are expected to be popular, including ‘Coding Critters’ – a storybook adventure that teaches kids to code without the need for a screen. There’s ‘Linkimals Slow Moves Sloth’ for pre-schoolers and for an older generation ‘Pictionary’ and ‘Lego’ with a modern edge. Visit hamleys.com for the store’s gift selection or to book to see Santa in his grotto in London’s Regent Street, Glasgow or Lakeside.

Royal Mail Christmas Post

The Royal Mail’s UK cut-off posting dates for 2019 are:

2nd class                                                     Wednesday 18th December

1st class                                                       Friday 20th December

Special Delivery (Guaranteed)              Monday 23rd December

Any cards or parcels for family and friends overseas need a little more planning as they require a trip to the Post Office. Airmail packages (International Standard Mail & International Tracking and Signature Mail) have a last cut off date for guaranteed delivery to Australia in early December. For Canada and the USA it is mid-December. Check other countries and all the other crucial dates for posting at royalmail.com – including those for sending parcels to the armed forces.

Scenes from the Nativity story, designed by paper-cut artists Hari & Deepti, appear on this year’s Royal Mail Christmas stamps and are on sale from November 5.

Skate Somerset House at 20

Celebrate 20 years of ice skating at Somerset House this Christmas as London’s famous ice rink returns, transforming the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court into a winter delight.

Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason has skating lessons, the late-night DJs series ‘Skate Lates’ and its first-ever skate all-nighter on Saturday December 7. There’s Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade for seasonal shopping, gourmet dining in Fortnum’s Lodge and the Baileys Treat Bar. Tickets are available now through somersethouse.org.uk (adults £11) and the event runs from November 13 to January 20.

M&S Christmas Food Range

Marks & Spencer has unveiled its Christmas food range for 2019, including a complete vegan Christmas dinner and the easiest of turkey roasts. This is known as ‘The Perfect Turkey’, which the store describes as “an absolute game-changer”. All the prep is done for you, so you just need to pop the turkey in the oven and cook for two hours. Enticing desserts include a new sticky toffee trifle, while the Clementine Gin Liqueur Snow Globe promises to be a popular gift and personal tipple. It’s complete with edible 23 carat gold leaf pieces. View more online at marksandspencer.com.

New Themes from ChristmasTimeUK

Vintage Pearl, Double Denim, Seasonal Safari and Steampunk have been revealed as the latest additions to ChristmasTimeUK’s popular decorating theme packs, which provide a simple way for customers to create a professional, co-ordinated festive display for the home. Vintage Pearl is an opulent design providing a combination of blush pink and deep burgundy tones, along with timeless ivory and hints of gold champagne. Double Denim is a cosy, textile-based theme, while Seasonal Safari is inspired by the African Savanna plains, bringing together cheetah, tiger and zebra prints with accents of shiny gold and feathered textures. Steampunk sees traditional baubles complemented by a collection of steampunk inspired decorations, including metallic baubles, top hats, pocket watches, gears and cogs. This theme is to be featured in the Leeds Corn Exchange shopping centre this Christmas. For more, visit christmastimeuk.com.

Brussels Sprout Gin is Here

Edinburgh-based Pickering’s Gin has developed a distinctive Christmas blend for 2019…Brussels Sprout Gin. Believed to be a world first, the company used 10,000 Brussels sprouts in their gin. That’s enough for 2,000 Christmas dinners. Pickering’s describes the flavour as “a surprisingly sweet, slightly nutty taste with a green, herbaceous and peppery twang.”

Christmas All Boxed Off

When searching for Christmas gifts in the coming days and weeks, check out Boxed Off. We love this idea from the brilliant environmentally friendly British company. It has created a fantastic range of health food supplement boxes, tailoring to specific needs. What a perfect present to help friends and family kick start the healthy eating regime in the New Year. Pop an extra box in the cart for yourself while you’re at it. The must-go place is boxed-off.com.

All its products are vegan friendly and all its packaging is plastic-free. Do you know someone struggling to get a good night’s sleep? Boxed Off has the box of supplements to help with that, in superb packaging and with the wording “Hit the Hay”. Indeed, all its boxes and packaging – for energy, detox, general health, muscle and more – have wording, colours and products to entice and enjoy. Moreover, if you have ever been bamboozled by the world of health supplements, Boxed Off makes it remarkably easy to understand. We cannot recommend the products and service highly enough.

New Festive Diet Coke

There will be a new festive flavour Diet Coke on the shelves in the UK from mid-October. Kris Robbens, Marketing Director at Coca-Cola Great Britain said: “We’re excited to announce the launch of a new limited-edition flavour, Diet Coke Clementine. Full of festive flavour and with no sugar, it’s the perfect drink for the lead up to Christmas.” So, that’s the classic flavour of Diet Coke, with an added orange twist. Sounds like a winning combination.

Capaldi & Gatiss Get Ghostly

Peter Capaldi is to star in a new half-hour BBC Four drama “Martin’s Close”, a spooky Christmas offering adapted by Mark Gatiss from a short story by MR James. The tale revolves around a 17th century murder trial with a supernatural twist. Gatiss wrote several episodes of “Doctor Who” for Capaldi and also co-starred in his final episode in 2017. Last year “The Dead Room” was BBC Four’s ghostly hit courtesy of Gatiss and actor Simon Callow.

Norfolk Lights Express

Here is a festive first for East Anglia. The North Norfolk Railway is expecting to run a new after-dark Norfolk Lights Express on its Sheringham to Holt route in the lead-up to Christmas 2019. Hugh Harkett, the railway’s managing director, said the express would complement their traditional daytime Santa Special rides. The illuminated steam train was given a trial run in June that Harkett described as “incredible”.

700 Grand for 007 Car

A limited-edition sports car, designed by James Bond himself Daniel Craig, is among the spectacular gifts in an American department store’s annual Christmas Book of luxury items for 2019. The 93rd edition of the Neiman Marcus book contains more than 800 gift ideas for all budgets. But it is the fantasy offerings that capture the headlights, not to mention the imagination. For $700,007 you can be the proud owner of an Aston Martin Superleggera car in ink blue, designed by 007. Only seven packages are available.

For a mere quarter of a million dollars, you and a guest can fly to New York to become an industry insider for fashion week, meeting designers and receiving five-star treatment. A portion of all purchases will be donated to The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation, bringing art enriching experiences to more than 2.5 million children. Gifts and more at neimanmarcus.com.

The Tiger for Christmas Tea

Coming to UK television screens this Christmas is the classic children’s story by Judith Kerr: “The Tiger Who Came to Tea”. The half-hour animated film will be shown on Channel 4 and features the voices talents of Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo and Tamsin Greig. It is made by the team behind previous festive offerings on Channel 4: “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and “The Snowman and the Snowdog”.

Joseph is Old Vic Scrooge

Paterson Joseph will follow in the footsteps of Rhys Ifans and Stephen Tompkinson when he stars in “A Christmas Carol” at the Old Vic in London when the show returns this year. Joseph takes on the role of Scrooge in Jack Thorne’s version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale.

Waitrose & Heston Xmas Combo

When we are talking Heston Blumenthal-inspired Fig & Port Cheesecake for Christmas, it can mean just one thing…Waitrose has become the latest supermarket to reveal its festive food range for 2019. Heston from Waitrose Pistachio Stollen Loaf and Waitrose Pork & Pancetta Christmas Cracker are among the other mouth-watering options. Iconic London store Fortnum & Mason has also been in Christmas launch mode. Its selection includes a Mini Musical Tin of shortbread that plays “Jingle Bells” and Figgy Christmas Pudding.

Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Life

Sir Paul McCartney is working on a stage musical adaptation of the classic Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life”. He was just four when the film was released in 1946. The new musical version is set for its opening night late next year. “It’s A Wonderful Life is my favourite film,” said the Tony Award-winning producer Bill Kenwright. “It has absolutely everything – comedy, pathos and a rare humanity which has touched generation after generation. To give it a life on the stage is an immense privilege in itself, but to do with Paul McCartney is off the scale. Paul’s wit, emotional honesty and melodic brilliance brings a whole new depth and breadth to the classic tale. I feel as if an angel must be looking after me.” There was a musical adaptation of Frank Capra’s film in the US in 1986, later to be revived but to little acclaim.

The First Nowell at St Martin’s

“The First Nowell: A Christmas Gala Evening” is to be held at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. St Martin’s has been renowned for centuries for its beautiful Georgian building in the heart of London, for its inspiring music and its work with homeless and vulnerable people. To raise money to continue this work, St Martin’s is hosting this Christmas Gala Evening on Wednesday December 4. The night begins with a revival of Vaughan William’s “The First Nowell”, written specially for St Martin’s in 1958 as part of an effort to raise funds to bring refugee children from post-war Germany to the UK. The nativity will be followed by a Christmas party with celebrity entertainment and a silent auction. For more details on this and other Christmas events at St Martin’s, go to stmartin-in-the-fields.org.

Little Women Christmas Premiere

Christmas Day is the release date in the USA of a new adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1868 novel “Little Women”, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern and James Norton. The film will premiere in the UK early in the New Year (January 17, 2020).

It’s Off for The Hoff Arena Tour

Weeks after it was announced David Hasselhoff would play Scrooge in a supersized musical arena spectacular in the UK this December, there was an about-face. “Scrooge – The Funny Family Spectacular” – originally scheduled for Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on December 6-8, Birmingham Resorts World Arena on December 20-23 and Nottingham Motorpoint Arena on December 28 – has been cancelled. Reports suggest the reason is “production issues”. All ticket holders will be refunded.

Argos Top Toys for Christmas 2019

With 198 days until Santa Claus makes his deliveries, UK store Argos was the first to reveal its predictions for the best-selling toys for Christmas 2019. The store conducted research around the same time showing a quarter of Britons had already started their Christmas shopping, while almost ten per cent had completed it. Taking over from the unicorn trend of last Christmas, llamas are predicted to be the top animal toy for 2019, including “Boppi The Booty Shakin’ Llama”, which enthusiastically moves to three pre-set songs and YouTube videos.

New Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special

James Corden and Ruth Jones are again joining forces to write and star in a new Christmas special of the hugely popular BBC comedy “Gavin & Stacey”, which will air on Christmas Day in the UK. It is almost ten years since the series came to an end, but the welcome return means fans can discover how life has unfolded for Gavin, Stacey, Nessa and Smithy.

Panto Fifty Pences

Designs from the UK’s five favourite pantomimes will feature on a new set of 50p coins to be released on the Channel Island of Guernsey before Christmas. Just 4,000 of each design will be in circulation.

Food Fair at Holkham Hall

Head to Norfolk in the East of England for a taste of Holkham’s annual festive food fair, which returns for a third year on December 14 & 15 at Holkham Hall. There will be cooking demonstrations by chefs from Charlie’s Norfolk Food Heroes and the list of traders includes Norfolk Coffee Company, Fen Farm Dairy and Norfolk Brewhouse. There’s also wreath-making and a performance by Diva Opera.