CHRISTMAS has come early for a top York music venue, thanks to a ‘generous’ council grant.

The National Centre for Early Music says the £22,200 grant from City of York Council will help pay for the cost of this year’s York Early Music Christmas Festival in December.

The money has come from the council’s ARG fund, which supports businesses affected by Covid.

The NCEM was forced to close its doors for several months during the pandemic, although it continued to stage concerts and festivals digitally.

Earlier this year, it received a £25,000 grant from Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund, which it described as a ‘lifeline’.

This latest grant will guarantee that the Early Music Christmas Festival can go ahead, said NCEM director Delma Tomlin.

“This generous grant ensures that we can stage the annual York Early Music Christmas Festival - a week of music celebration featuring a line-up of world class performers,” she said.

“The festival is hugely popular with residents and attracts visitors from all over the UK, who make it part of their Christmas calendar.

“It’s wonderful to see the city coming back to life and we’re very proud to be able to be part of its fabulous programme of events celebrating the festive season. We can’t wait to welcome audiences back to our beautiful home of St Margaret’s Church.”

Cllr Darryl Smalley, York's executive member for culture, leisure and communities, said: “York’s live music scene is crucial and vibrant. We recognise the ongoing challenges venues are facing as we ease out of national restrictions and are committed to working with the sector to provide all possible support."

This year’s Christmas festival programme at the NCEM features artists from the UK and Europe, including the return of The Gesualdo Six, who took York Early Music Festival by storm last year; Yorkshire Bach Choir performing JS Bach’s Mass in B minor; plus 17th Century Christmas, Mexican style from Siglo de Oro.

Tickets will be on sale for York Early Music Christmas Festival from Monday October 10 from