Step into Christmas with The Auckland Project’s Winter Experience
Thursday, 22 September 2022

Winter Exp Type Red


A traditional Christmas with a seasonal surprise mixed in awaits those visiting The Auckland Project this winter.

Tickets for the Winter Experience are now on sale, offering visitors the chance to explore and enjoy series of festive spectacles across the charity’s Bishop Auckland attractions from November 18th to December 31st December.

A stunning Christmas Garland and a monumental Neapolitan Nativity scene from the 18th century, together with 100 Christmas trees and a top-secret treat sure to delight one and all, will ensure a visit to The Auckland Project should be top of everyone’s Christmas list.

As well as welcoming people into Auckland Castle and Auckland Tower, the Winter Experience will offer visitors the chance to be among the first to see inside the much-anticipated Faith Museum, scheduled to open in autumn 2023.

The magnificent Throne Room inside Auckland Castle will be beautifully adorned with an exquisite 50ft garland, created using more than 30,000 flowers grown in the Walled Garden and the wider Castle grounds.

Inspired by the use of floral displays in houses over winter – something which has been done for centuries – the design will echo architectural features of the Castle’s State Rooms, which were designed by James Wyatt for Bishop Barrington in the 1790s.

Andy Nesbitt, Curator of Parks and Gardens at The Auckland Project said: “It’s going to look absolutely stunning and will offer a real ‘Instagram moment’ for visitors. The display will accentuate the Castle’s architecture and resonate with the Throne Room and its history.”

Among the flowers which will make up the Christmas Garland are Teasel, Salvia clary, Opium poppies, Helichrysum, Bells of Ireland, Lavender, Ferns, Hydrangea, Ornamental grasses, Hops and Amaranthus.

Andy added: “In order to get the 30,000 flowerheads we need to create the garland, we’ve grown around 40,000-50,000 flowers in the Walled Garden and throughout the estate, which are now being dried out. Every cupboard you open seems to be full of flowers drying at the moment!”

Next on the Winter Experience trail is the Faith Museum’s dramatic gallery where visitors will be invited to take in the rare sight of an 18th-century Baroque créche known in Italian as a Presepe.

The monumental Neapolitan Nativity scene, which measures a remarkable 11ft tall and 15ft wide is one of the most impressive and important examples outside Italy and brings together classical and Christian mythology with the traditional folk culture of everyday Naples.

Purchased by Zurburán Trust from the Porcini family’s private collection, the incredible display features 421 items including bawdy street-sellers, raucous musicians and boisterous children alongside the familiar sacred elements of the Holy Family, wise men, angels and shepherds.

A wonderful and rare example of a Neapolitan créche, boasting high-quality craftmanship and detail, the display is sure to become a staple of The Auckland Project’s Christmas offer for years to come.

In the tradition of Christmas surprises, the final stop on The Auckland Project’s Winter Experience is being kept tightly under wraps until the season begins on November 18th.

Jon O’Donoghue, Commercial Director at The Auckland Project said: “This is the first time The Auckland Project has offered a full Christmas programme of events and experiences and we thought an element of festive mystery would add to the excitement.

“For those who like to be surprised, simply book your tickets, turn up, and expect the unexpected. For those with curious minds, follow our social media channels for clues. We promise to keep you guessing!”

Also on the Christmas menu will be festive afternoon teas and dining experiences in the Old Library, for which bookings are also open.

Meanwhile a busy programme of garland-making workshops and wider family and community drop-in activities will be announced in the coming weeks.

Jon added: “Christmas is a time when faith, family and fun come together more than ever, and this has been at the centre of our ambitions for the Winter Experience.

“We want to put The Auckland Project at the heart of Christmas in Bishop Auckland, creating new traditions people will look forward to and enjoy with their loved ones year on year.”

The Auckland Project Winter Experience ticket is now available and includes access to Auckland Castle, the Faith Gallery and Auckland Tower. Tickets cost £7 for children (under 5s free), £14 for adults, £21 for families with 1 adult and £35 for families with 2 adults.

Individual time-slotted tickets for the mystery Christmas event inside Auckland Tower will be available to purchase separately for £4 per person from 18th November.

Tickets can also be pre-booked online for the Spanish Gallery and Mining Art Gallery, with Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross on display in the Spanish Gallery until December 4th.

All bookings can be made at