Ad Gefrin in Wooler rekindles the festival of Yule with programme of events for winter season

Ad Gefrin Anglo-Saxon Museum and Whisky Distillery is challenging our perception of a traditional Dickensian Christmas by rekindling the ancient festival of Yule.
The Ad Gefrin distillery and Anglo-Saxon museum in Wooler.The Ad Gefrin distillery and Anglo-Saxon museum in Wooler.
The Ad Gefrin distillery and Anglo-Saxon museum in Wooler.

For thousands of years, this nature-focused festival brought people together to celebrate the persistence of life, even during the darkest and coldest months.

And so this Yuletide, the Wooler venue will bring to life the largely untold story of a Northumbrian Anglo-Saxon royal court, with a festive twist.

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Chris Ferguson, director of visitor experience at Ad Gefrin, said: “Anglo-Saxon Yule was a time to celebrate joy in the darkness of mid-winter. Yule brought together the tales and traditions of Christmas with notions of seasonal change – the natural surroundings, the light and the winter months ahead.

"We at Ad Gefrin are really excited to capture some of this spirit and bring Yule to life in a 21st Century context throughout November and December.”

Traditional Yule celebrations kicked off last weekend with Martinmas, or St Martin’s Day - marking the end of the harvest season and the onset of winter or, more accurately, ‘winter revelling season’: a chance to enjoy the first wine of the season.

And so to mark the change of seasons Ad Gefrin is launching its first whisky cream, Flyte while a new Yule-inspired menu with mulled ‘Tácnbora’ whisky is available in the bistro (throughout November and December) and Ad Gefrin’s Friday Lates offer cocktails, light bites, and live music.

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The Frost Fetters - an homage to the winter fetters of frost that cover the rolling green hills that surround Wooler in winter - will be celebrated by the lighting of bonfires and lanterns, and traditional folk songs accompanied by Northumbrian pipes and lyre: both typical of the Anglo Saxon era. The Frost Fetters will take place on November 18-19 and 25-26 with music, storytelling and crafts for little ones and Yule Cocktail Masterclass for adults.

Into December, Winter Wonders will take place across the weekends of December 2-3 and 16-17.

A Festival of Light will mark the first Sunday of Advent, while storytelling and crafts will entertain little ones.

The Oak and the Holly King on December 9-10 offers a weekend of storytelling in the Great Hall.

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Other festivities in December include: Yule Cocktail Masterclasses on December 6 and an Embroidery Workshop to master Anglo-Saxon embroidery on December 7. The final festive flurry is a Yule Wreath Workshop and Afternoon Tea on December 14.

Christmas at Ad Gefrin will culminate in Midwinter’s Day on December 23 with the Lighting of the Yule Log and oath-taking.

On December 31, Ad Gefrin will host New Year Oaths: a New Year’s Eve Dining Experience with a set menu, entertainment and champagne - and of course whisky - into the New Year.

The £14m-plus attraction opened to the public in March, celebrating and showcasing the unique heritage, ancient hospitality and contemporary crafts, arts and produce of the region. It reveals the fascinating history of Northumberland’s Anglo-Saxon ‘Golden Age’.

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