YORK Early Music Christmas Festival is selling so well that only a few concerts still have tickets available.

Thirteen events will take place from December 8 to 16, with more than 24 hours of uplifting early music and performance. Among the events with tickets on sale is the opening night's programme of wintry favourites at the National Centre for Early Music, Now Winter Comes Slowly.

Performed by Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and lutenist and theorbo player Elizabeth Kenny next Friday at 7.30pm, it will feature scenes from Purcell's Fairy Queen and King Arthur, hymns to the Virgin, celebratory Christmas songs by Bach and Scarlatti and traditional carols and Noels.

Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova last played the NCEM to try out material three days before her rather bigger Royal Albert Hall concert three days later, when she stayed at Middlethorpe Hall during her 2015 visit. The York hotel and spa will support her return with the Chiaroscuro Quartet for a weekend of three concerts under the title Haydn'Seek Op 76 on December 9 and 10.

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The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments

Joining Ibragimova will be Pablo Hernan Bendi, violin, Emilie Hornlund, viola, and Claire Thrion, cello, for Haydn's last complete set of String Quartets at 11.30am and 5pm next Saturday and 11.30am next Sunday. Only 30 tickets remain at the time of going to press.

In a late addition to the festival, as part of the BBC's Spirit Of Bach festivities, BarrocoTout will perform Bach: A Musical Offering next Friday at 1pm at the NCEM, with tickets still available.

Carlota Garcia, flute, Izana Soria, violin, Edouard Catalan, cello, and Ganael Schneider, harpsichord, winners of the 2017 York Early Music Festival International Young Artist's Competition, will present Bach's unique gift to Frederick the Great, a beautiful set of rich fugues, ingenious canons and an elegant trio sonata, that will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 1pm on Christmas Eve.

So too has A Choral Workshop, led by Alexander Kyle, next Saturday at St Denys's Church, Walmgate, when he will explore the Messe de minuit pour Noel, one of Charpentier's 11 mass settings.

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The York Waits

No surprises, Yorkshire Bach Choir's 7.30pm concert at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, next Saturday is fully booked. "A popular programme, a guaranteed good night, why not?!" says festival director Delma Tomlin.

Conductor Peter Seymour, sopranos Bethany Seymour and Wendy Goodson, alto Nancy Cole, tenor Jonathan Harvey, bass Frederick Long and the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists will perform Handel's Dixit Dominus, Vivaldi's Gloria and Haydn's Nelson Mass.

Concerti Di Margherita present Cara La Vita Mia, a programme of madrigals, instrumental canzone, villanelle and arie from the late-16th century with a twist: the ensemble members – Francesca Benetti, Tanja Vorgin, Giovanni Baviera, Rui Staehelin and Ricardo Leitao Pedro – sing and accompany themselves simultaneously, creating a rich and layered musical texture in the wonderful acoustic of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, in Fossgate, on December 10 at 5pm. Please note, the café will be open before and after the concert.

"Concerti Di Margherita are coming to York as part of the eeemerging Emerging European Ensembles programme, arriving next Friday, and they'll be with us all the way through to their concert, receiving coaching from the likes of Robert Hollingworth and working with Mollie Newton at Heworth Primary School," says Delma.

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Next comes another sold-out performance: Orlando Consort's Alleluia Nativitas, A Medieval Christmas And New Year, featuring early Renaissance works by Perotin, Dufay, Clemens non Papa and anon at the NCEM on December 10 at 7.30pm. Joglaresa's Make We Merthe, a night of medieval song and Yuletide cheer with director Belinda Sykes, Angela Hicks, Lea Cornthwaite, May Robertson and Louise Anna Doogan, at the NCEM is a 7.30pm sell-out too on December 11.

Only a few tickets are still available for The Ebor Singers' Verse Anthems and Carols from the English Civil War in their new partnership with the Chelys Consort of Viols on December 12 at the NCEM at 7.30pm.

Festival favourites The York Waits will be joined by vocalist Deborah Catterall for Goday My Lord Sir Christemas, a celebration of English medieval and Tudor music for the festive season, at the NCEM on December 13 at the usual 7.30.

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Chelys Viol Consort

Supported by Music Norway, The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, featuring Norwegian hardanger fiddler and vocalist Benedicte Maurseth, Jean Kelly and Clare Salaman, present The Longest Night from 7.30pm, but not all through the festival-closing night on December 16. Sold out? You knew already.

The performances will be held mainly in the intimate candlelit surroundings of the NCEM’s home in St Margaret’s Church, off Walmgate, and mince pies are provided at most concerts.

Delma says: "We’re rounding off our marvellous anniversary year with a bumper Christmas festival, which this year sees more events, days and music than the past few years. We’ve programmed festival favourites, such as Joglaresa, who never fail to draw the audiences, but we are welcoming new and lovely musical performances also, such as Chiaroscuro String Quartet.

"The Christmas Festival is a lovely time of year, and it’s always heartening to see the engaging audiences taking time out to let themselves be absorbed by the ensembles. We’re also pleased to be hosting our eeemerging residency, Concerto de Margherita. It’s set to be another enjoyable festival and a wonderful end to rather a fulfilling and busy year."

The full programme and ticket details can be found at ncem.co.uk/xmas