A POPULAR festival returns next week to put Middlesbrough’s history, heritage, arts and culture firmly in the spotlight.

And even if you think know Middlesbrough inside out, Discover Middlesbrough always has a few surprises in store.

The 2016 programme is officially launched this week, with a feast of events, shows and exhibitions getting under way on Friday, October 14.

It’s an annual open invitation to explore, experience and enjoy everything the town has to offer, and there really is something for everyone.

From the opening night until Monday, October 31, all are welcome to Discover Middlesbrough, from its well-known attractions to its hidden gems.

The festival will be launched in spectacular fashion with Nightfall in Centre Square, a family arts event commissioned by Middlesbrough Council and produced by Stellar Projects with support from Arts Council England.

Nightfall celebrates the theme of stars in the sky through installations, performances and workshops from 6pm on Friday, October 14.

Highlights of the fortnight include a talk by artist Ian Taylor on the final evening of his show at Pythongallery also on Friday, October 14, and a Day School on life in the North East during the English Civil Wars the following day at the Dorman Museum.

Why not grab a breath of fresh air with historian-led walks with the Friends of Linthorpe Cemetery and Nature Reserve, or even join a 7km run to Larchfield Community on Thursday, October 20.

Treasures of the Town Hall will be the subject of a talk by the historic venue’s manager Rob Guest and heritage expert Tosh Warwick on October 21, and later the same day Streetwise Opera will give a lunchtime concert at Middlesbrough Central Library.

The ever-popular Magical History Bus Tour is back on Saturday, October 22 with a brand new route, and the following day there’s a rare chance for a ‘hard hat tour’ behind the scenes at Stewart Park’s Central Lodge.

Boro fans can find out all about their favourite fanzine from FMTTM editor Robert Nichols at Marton Library on Monday, October 24 and on October 27 there’s a walking tour linking the four grounds from the club’s early history.

There’s a 278 th birthday celebration for Captain Cook on October 27, and the hugely popular Orange Pip Market returns to Baker and Bedford Streets on Saturday, October 29.

Discover Middlesbrough 2016 draws to a close on Monday, October 31 with the opening of poet and local historian PA Morbid’s first solo exhibition at the Pythongallery.

Holiday Inn Express Sales Executive Tony Bainbridge said: “With our extension under way we are absolutely thrilled to see Middlesbrough developing and growing.

“We are very excited about the events surrounding Discover Middlesbrough, and cannot wait to kick the whole thing off with Nightfall!”

Councillor Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Discover Middlesbrough is a celebration of Middlesbrough’s fantastic history and heritage, as well as its thriving contemporary cultural scene.

“The festival has become a popular fixture on the town’s calendar, with an array of fascinating events exploring Middlesbrough’s past, present and future.

“Once again visitors and local residents can look forward to an eclectic and inspiring mix of events, exhibitions, talks and walks.

“I hope everyone will take the opportunity to have a closer look at the things we treasure about the town, and perhaps along the way discover some gems that may have passed them by.”

Discover Middlesbrough is presented by Middlesbrough Council’s Festival and Events Team and co-ordinated by Tracy Hyman and Robert Nichols.

Discover Middlesbrough festival programmes are now available from venues across Middlesbrough, including libraries, community hubs, museums, Middlesbrough Town Hall, Middlesbrough FC and the Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre.

Digital versions can also be viewed at

Follow Discover Middlesbrough on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Discovermiddlesbrough and on Twitter at @discovermbro

For more information, contact the Council’s Festivals and Events team on 01642 729085