VENUES across the North-East are gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year as audiences enjoy festive productions and pantomimes.

In Hexham, the team at the Queen’s Hall Arts Centre are putting the finishing touches to their first major festive production – A Viking Christmas.

The new magical show has been created with a focus on celebrating the very best North-East creative talent. It’s an exciting time for the venue under the leadership of new artistic director, Katy Taylor.

“We are really thrilled to be producing a wonderful new Christmas show. The creative team are hard at work on the show which we know will be engaging, awe-inspiring and fun for children and adults alike,” said Katy.

“A Viking Christmas will be a truly original Christmas show created in the North-East, inspired by the thrilling myths of Northumberland. We’re passionate about the creative talent we have here – and we want to ensure that we tap into that talent and keep it right here in the region where the public can enjoy it.

“We’re already working with the local community and schools to make sure everyone has a chance to get involved with this exciting production.”

The show will open on December 13 and was written by North-East playwright Gary Kitching.

It’s a magical tale from the frozen land of the nordic kings, evil wizards and the great warriors of the Kingdom of Northumbria. The story follows Lotte, a brave little girl, on a mid-winter adventure.

At Newcastle’s Theatre Royal, the spellbinding story of Beauty and the Beast has already started to entertain audiences, featuring the popular trio of Theatre Royal panto stars Danny Adams, Clive Webb and Chris Hayward.

The show promises spectacular choreography, glittering sets, breath-taking special effects and a wonderful musical score.

Theatre Royal chief executive Philip Bernays said: “This year’s production promises to be another spectacular show with a staggering 78,000 tickets already sold.”

At Whitley Bay Playhouse, Blue Genie Entertainment presents the giant adventure of Jack and the Beanstalk with shows until January 4.

Audiences can step into the world of fairytales, to meet poor hero Jack and his dotty mum Dame Trott. Britain’s Got Talent winner Ashleigh Butler and dog Sully will take to the stage alongside X Factor finalist Molly Scott and the legendary panto star Steve Walls.