Looking for things to do and/or events this Christmas that are disability and autism friendly and all of the family can enjoy?
We have done some research for Christmas events in the Northeast including County Durham that are inclusive and tailored to autistic peoples’ and people with learning difficulties’ needs.We have come across an exceptionally autism friendly Christmas event located in Bishop Auckland in County Durham called “Aglow”.
Immerse yourself in a magical wonderland this Christmas 2023 in Bishop Auckland’s latest installment at their beautiful Auckland Park. Not only is it a fantastic, exciting experience for all people, but they have also made a disability-friendly session too!
This special event is essentially a light trail that people can walk around, featuring 17 illuminated installments that will have you mesmerized! The light trail begins at Auckland Castle and takes you on a 1.5 mile walk around the Auckland Castle grounds and garden and the Deer Park.
Displays featured include a wide variety including a light show on the castle, the largest Christmas tree in the Northeast, real fire displays, fountains, musical trees and bubbles!
There will be festive treats provided by several food vendors on the site, including mulled wine, hot chocolate and marshmallows.
How this Christmas event is autism friendly
What makes Aglow the most autism friendly Christmas event, is their sensory-friendly hour-long sessions that run on the following dates:
- Thursday 14th December
Between 4.30-5.30pm on these dates, the event will be run at a reduced capacity so it’s less crowded, and the general atmosphere is quieter and calmer. The volume of the audio features will also be reduced in bid to reduce sensory overload.
This Christmas event is also accessibly friendly for people of all ages as well as autism and other learning difficulties.
We will now go through everything you need to know about Aglow’s general accessibility.
There is plenty of places to park around Bishop Auckland town centre including North Bondgate car park which is just a five-minute walk to the start of the light trail. Parking here is free after 4.30pm. There is some parking nearer by which is pay-and-display on Kingsway.
If you plan on catching a train to Bishop Auckland from Darlington, it takes 25 minutes and the rail service operated once every hour- it is best to plan ahead and book train tickets if you’re planning on coming from Durham, Newcastle, York or anywhere further. The train station at Bishop Auckland is a 15-minute walk to the Aglow event. Bus services run regularly around County Durham, the best route from Durham is the Number 6 or X21 which only takes 35-40 minutes. The X21 service also runs all the way from Newcastle and from Barnard Castle. There are other bus services from Darlington and Stockton. The nearest bus stop is on the marketplace opposite Wetherspoons and is just a couple of minutes to walk from.
This event is not wheelchair friendly unfortunately. Most of the trial is uneven, bumpy footpaths and gravelled surfaces. There is plastic matting in parts but this is also uneven and would be very awkward for wheelchairs. It is also worth bearing this in mind for pushchairs too.
At the event, there are plenty of food and drink vendors on site. The Santa’s Village which is located further along the trail has plenty of food and drink vendors. There are also vegan and gluten-free food options sold as well. It is worth mentioning that only card payments are possible, so they don’t take cash. You won’t need to worry about bringing your own food, but you can do so anyway.
The event is a very friendly, cheerful atmosphere with so much festivity and fascinating things for all people including autism to look at and enjoy this Christmas. It is worth bearing in mind that the event takes place at night so it will be dark in parts of the trail, so definitely consider bringing a torch. And do prepare for a cold night, bring plenty of coats, hats and gloves to stay warm.
If you are interested in coming along to Aglow, then click here to find out more about booking tickets!
We also highly recommend Northern Lights which is a similar Christmas event in Newcastle that also runs autism-friendly sessions.