"Downton Abbey" season 5 release date is likely to be in the fall of 2014 for UK viewers with 2015 for US viewers, as the series has been renewed for another season by ITV following the wrap up of season 4. "Downton Abbey" is easily on of the most popular historical dramas in both the UK and the US. The fourth season of the show got among the highest viewers with an average of 11.8 million people per episode where season 4 of the series just aired. The US is expected to get "Downton Abbey" season 4 through PBS with the first episode to air January 5, 2014, just a week before "Sherlock" season 3 which will premiere January 19, just an hour after "Downton Abbey's" time slot.

The "Downton Abbey" season 5 release date was confirmed by Gareth Neame, the managing director of Carnival Films, which produces the series, "Audiences have enjoyed their regular Sunday evening visits back to Downton once again this autumn, and we are thrilled to produce a new series of the show next year." He went on to assure fans, "We promise all the usual highs and lows, romance, drama and comedy played out by some of the most iconic characters on television. All the actors and makers of the show continue to be humbled by the extraordinary audience response and want to take the show from strength to strength next year." US viewers are unfortunately almost a full year behind compared to their British counterparts. Season 4 of "Downton Abbey' will begin to air on January 5 on PBS and last till February 23. It will be preceded by a preview and recap special called, "Return to Downton Abbey" on December 1.

Before we get "Dowton Abbey" season 5 release date, the Christmas special will be aired by ITV on December 25, 2013. Last year's Christmas special featured the shocking death of Matthew. This year executive producer Liz Trubridge said that the Christmas special would be spectacular but would not feature any more character deaths. That should allow viewers to breathe a sigh of relief. Liz said, "Nobody dies, that much I can tell you. I am sorry about last year, but what do you do when you have a treasured character who wants to leave? But we won't do that this time!" She went on to give some hints about the plot, "It is packed full of story and it is without question the biggest episode we have ever done. It is the most spectacular [ever]. It's not set at Christmas and we won't be splitting up the family and the servants this time."

With "Downton Abbey" season 5 release date confirmed, the question on some fans mind is what about season 6? Where will the show go after season 5? Neame commented to the Television Critics Association, "As far as we know, we're all doing season five next year. Beyond that, we really don't know." Season 5 of "Downton Abbey" will continue to be written by Julian Fellows, executive produced by Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge alongside Fellows. As far as we know there are no other character shake-ups coming, but that could very well change. We do know that during the Christmas special the Crawley household will be joined by Shirley McLane and Paul Giamatti. McLane will be playing Martha Levinson while Paul Giamatti plays the role of Cora's playboy brother from America, Harold.

When the "Downton Abbey" season 5 release date comes it will pick up from the major plot points of season 4. The series will likely pick up with Lady Mary resuming her relationship with Lord Gillingham after he tells her that he has broken his engagement. For much of past season Lady Mary spent healing from Matthew's death and taking charge of the estate. In the next season we might see more progress for her. In season 5 we will also likely see what Edith decides to do. Now that the Dowager Countess knows and has offered her monetary support Edith may choose not to give the baby away. We will also likely find out what has become of Gregson. Branson may or may not go to America after this, perhaps the presence of Harold will dissuade him. Branson seems to believe he can make a fresh start and the US has a different kind of people. But Harold is known to be a playboy so that may disillusion Branson from his America plans. The biggest plot resolutions we will likely see involve Bates, Anna and the now deceased Green. In a somewhat shocking turn of events Green died in a car accident during the finale episode around the same time Bates had taken a trip. The news was given by Lord Gillingham to Lady Mary. Anna is clearly suspicious that Bates has done exactly what she feared and murdered Green. We will likely find out in the Christmas special if that is true or not.

Check our other "Downton Abbey" stories here:

Watch 'Downton Abbey' Season 4 Episode 8 Finale Online: As Series Draws To A Close Will Bates Confront Green And What Will Happen To Rose? [VIDEO]

Watch 'Downton Abbey' Season 4 Episode 7 Online: What Will Bates Do With The Return Of Green And Lord Gillingham? [VIDEO]

Watch 'Downton Abbey' Season 4 Episode 6 Online: Will Bates Try To Kill Green For Revenge? [VIDEO]