downton abbey, downton abbey season 6It's the beginning of the end for "Downton Abbey," as the beloved British series prepares to sign off after its upcoming sixth season. Now, PBS (which airs the show here in the U.S.) has released the first images from the new season, which are sure to make fans misty about the looming series finale.

The first photo (glimpsed in the image above and seen in full below) is the traditional full-cast picture for which "Downton" has become known, showcasing all the characters posing in front of sprawling the titular estate. And while there are plenty of smiling faces featured, there's no doubt plenty of drama waiting to unfold throughout the season.

As for the other images, they don't tell us much, either; they're mostly standard, posed photos, or feature a few characters staring off into the distance. Still, the shot of Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess gazing wistfully into a mirror is sure to stir some emotions -- after all, that's probably how a lot of "Downton" fans will look, too, as they come to terms with the show's end.

Check out some of the photos below (the rest are available here). The final season of "Downton Abbey" just finished filming; it's set to premiere in the U.S. on January 3.

downton abbey, downton abbey season 6

downton abbey, downton abbey season 6

downton abbey, downton abbey season 6[via: Downton Abbey, PBS]

Photo credit: Downton Abbey, Masterpiece