For the first time this summer, a number of organisations are coming together to celebrate Durham City’s art scene, in a collaborative new festival debuting on Friday 1stJune.

Durham City Arts Festival sees three independent festivals featuring music, theatre and visual arts, join forces to bring to the City one super-festival throughout the course of June, in a bid to engage people living across the county with different types of art, while making the concept of creativity more accessible for people of all ages and with different tastes to enjoy.

The three festivals joining under the Durham City Arts Festival banner are Durham Festival of the Arts, DJazz, and Art Durham.

Now in its 5th year, Durham Festival of the Arts is a three week-long festival of music, comedy, art, and theatre organised by the University’s Music Durham and Durham Student Theatre teams, weaving together a wealth of photography exhibitions alongside musical, comedy, and theatrical performances. 

This year’s festival also includes a range of masterclasses in subjects such as brass, voice, organ and gamelan, with organisers inviting fellow students, university staff, and people living across the North East to come along, try something new, and expand their knowledge.

Commenting on the launch of Durham City Art Festival, Stuart Corbridge, Vice Chancellor of Durham University, said: “Durham University is very pleased to be playing its part in this ground-breaking new festival. Durham has a thriving cultural scene and our staff and students make a significant contribution to this.

“We hope many people will enjoy the festival and that it will trigger a creative spark in them, too.”

Durham Festival of Arts 2018 opens with a spectacular ‘Beyond The Realms’ concert in the majestic Durham Cathedral on Friday 1stJune  at 7.30pm.  The 250-strong ensemble includes performers from Durham University’s Orchestral Society, its Chamber Choir, and the celebrated acapella group ‘Northern Lights’, as well as the University’s Big Band, Choral Society, and Concert Band. 

Adding to the line-up within Durham City Arts Festival is DJazz. After launching in 2017, the Durham City Jazz Festival is back for a second year and offers visitors an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional jazz music set against the backdrop of some of Durham’s most intriguing and exciting venues such as Fowlers Yard,  Redhills, Durham Miners Hall and Empty Shop HQ.  Organised by AT THE ROOT and Empty Shop in partnership with Durham University Jazz Society, headline artists appearing at the festival between Friday 1stand Sunday 3rdJune include Soweto Kinch,Skeltr, Paul Edis, Zoe Gilby Duo and Break Out Brass Band.

Finally, completing the line-up for Durham City Arts Festival is a brand-new visual arts-based programme debuting for the first time across the City this year. Known as Art Durham, it will feature workshops, talks, events and exhibitions in venues including the Gala Gallery, The Riverwalk, Prince Bishops Shopping Centre, the Town Hall and Alington House to name but a few.  A collaboration between Durham University and Durham County Council, the new mini festival celebrating visual arts will run between Monday 4thJune and Sunday 17thJune. Headliners include textile artist Betty Barnet Brown, Nasty Women North East and a pop up outdoor selling exhibition.

Ossie Johnson, Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues at Durham County Council, said: “We want art to be accessible to everyone by bringing it out into the community and Art Durham will include exhibitions and activities that appeal to all. 

“We hope people come out to support this event as well as the others taking place as part of Durham City Art Festival – all of which showcase the great creative talent we have here in our county.”

The joining of forces between Durham Festival of the Arts, DJazz and Art Durham under the Durham City Arts Festival umbrella also provides opportunities for smaller events taking place across Durham throughout June, such as Live InDurham. It allows these fringe events to take advantage of the opportunity and in turn strengthen the City offer to both culture vultures living locally, as well as those with an interest all aspects of the arts travelling from further afield, to enjoy the different events under the festival’s brand.

Adam Deathe, Business Engagement Manager at Durham Business Improvement District (Durham BID), said: “Live InDurham is a regular event organised by Durham BID in collaboration with local musicians. It takes place at venues across the City on the third Thursday of every month, showcasing the talents of people across the region on a grass-roots level.

“As Live InDurham this June takes place within the timeframe of the new Durham City Arts Festival, it’s a hugely exciting opportunity for our local artists to perform to a potentially much bigger audience.  In turn, this can only help to strengthen the City’s position as premier destination for those interested in all-things cultural,  and with the added footfall, only goes to support and enhance the local economy too, with people spending more time and money in local businesses across the City during the course of the festival.”

Some elements of Durham City Art Festival are free to attend. Other performances and exhibitions may require an entry free. For more information about Durham City Art Festival, visit