A CHOIR set up to celebrate the return of a medieval manuscript to the North-East will perform to the public for the first time this weekend.

In a bid to help spread festive cheer, the Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir will sing a variety of carols and seasonal songs at the Bowes Museum Christmas Market in Barnard Castle, County Durham, at around 2pm on Sunday, December 15.

The performance is a forerunner to a major concert on Palace Green in Durham in July - which will see 1,000 singers unite to celebrate the return of the  Lindisfarne Gospels to the city.

The priceless Gospels, created on Lindisfarne, in Northumberland, in the Eighth Century in honour of St Cuthbert, will be loaned by the British Library in London to Palace Green Library, in Durham, from July to September, with up to 200,000 visitors expected.

This summer, The Northern Echo backed a campaign to recruit singers of all ages and abilities to celebrate the event.

Already, hundreds of individuals, schools and choirs have signed up.

In Durham City, every month, more than 100 recruits attend a rehearsal led by Mish Kelly, Durham Cathedral’s director of musical outreach.

Sunday’s performance will be their first experience of singing together in public.

Rosie Bradford, events co-ordinator at Bowes Museum, said it was an honour to host the choir’s first performance.

“We are absolutely delighted and so excited to hear the choir sing,” she said.

“The Christmas market will provide a fantastic setting for the choir to perform in. I am sure it will be a wonderful event.”

The Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir is one of a number of singing groups performing at the Christmas market, which takes place tomorrow (Saturday, December 15) and Sunday, between 10am and 4pm.

Guests can look forward to a varied programme of religious and non-religious pieces, including Away in a Manger, The Lord is My Shepherd, In the Bleak Midwinter and Time of Snow.

Entry to the Christmas market is free and a free park and ride scheme will run at regular intervals from the GlaxoSmithKline car park at Harmire Road in Barnard Castle.

Those wishing to park in the Bowes Museum will be charged £5, with the exception of disabled drivers.

As well as musical entertainment, the market will feature 100 stalls selling gifts and produce from across the North-East, including meat, chocolate, Christmas cakes, liqueurs, festive wreaths, cupcakes, jewellery, paintings and pottery.

Children can also visit Santa in his grotto for £4.50, which includes a Christmas trail and other festive activities.

For more information on the Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir visit lindisfarnegospels.com