As the days get shorter and the winter nights colder, the village of Askrigg lights its Christmas trees and its windows in defiant celebration of the season.

Warmth and light fill every corner of the village – the tree in the ancient market square is brightly lit, the 13th Century St Oswald’s Church basks in the reflected glow, the Advent windows come alive one night at a time and the village craft shop showcases its festive creations.

Many events are centred on the church as it anticipates and celebrates Christmas, but people of all faiths and none are keen to bring much-needed warmth and light to the dark, wintry streets.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Askrigg Christmas tree with St Oswald's Church. Picture Gemma Anderson

The final Advent window appears in the church on Christmas Eve, and a map points the way to the many interpretations of the winter season: from Nativity scenes to Santa Claus, from angels to reindeer. For those who feel the "real" meaning of Christmas is lost, Askrigg surely has the answer in its unique blend of the sacred and the secular.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Street scene with Advent window Picture: COLIN ANDERSON

The annual Christmas tree festival, meanwhile, starts on Saturday, December 16, and runs through to early January. Villagers donate and decorate trees in their own unique style, and the trees are lit from dusk each night and placed around the churchyard and in the church itself.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The House in the window Picture: HELEN DALTON

On Sunday, December 17, there is a service of nine lessons and carols in church at 10.30am, and on Christmas Eve there will be community carol-singing round the tree in the market square at 5pm. Everyone is encouraged to bring a lantern or a candle.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Heather & Grouse, the village craft shop Picture: Gemma Anderson

As the singing ends, Father Christmas will then pay his traditional visit bearing gifts for the children.

At 11.30pm on Christmas Eve Midnight Mass will be celebrated in St Oswald’s.