This summer Durham boasts a spectacular cultural programme which is set to provide a multi-million pound boost to the economy and to showcase the county’s history and heritage like never before.
Events and exhibitions range from ‘Kynren – an epic tale of England’ in the shadow of Auckland Castle, the world-class Open Treasure experience at the heart of Durham Cathedral and a major fashion coup for The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle with The V & As – Shoes: Pleasure and Pain – the museum is the only UK venue outside London staging this exhibition before it tours internationally to the USA and China.
It’s a programme bursting with the very best of County Durham’s rich heritage including The National Rail Museum’s Locomotion: Flying Scotsman and the Shildon Shed Bash – an event inspired by the famous ‘Shed Bashes’ of the 1950s and 60s when trainspotters would visit a railway shed by fair means or foul, and try to see every locomotive. On its opening weekend (July 23/34) more than 10,000 enthusiasts packed the museum’s grounds to mark the occasion.
Gary Campbell, Manager at Locomotion: the National Railway Museum, said: “The Flying Scotsman last visited Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon in 2004 for the museum’s official opening. We’re delighted to welcome it back and we love giving museum visitors the chance to get up-close and ride behind this iconic locomotive.”
On Saturday 23 July, Durham Cathedral unlocked the doors to Open Treasure, a new £10.9 million exhibition experience, which gives visitors access to the Cathedral’s magnificent buildings and breath-taking collections as never before.
Embracing the latest in exhibition technology, Open Treasure combines old with new in a world-class, interactive experience, as visitors journey through the most intact surviving medieval monastic buildings in the UK.
The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, the Dean of Durham, said: “Open Treasure is a fantastic way for visitors of all ages to discover more about Christianity in the North East, the Cathedral’s fascinating history as well as our current life as a working church.
“We hope that the interactive displays, fascinating artefacts and amazing spaces will draw visitors young and old from near or far to share this wonderful new venture with us.”
Providing a spectacular setting on the edge of Barnard Castle – The Bowes Museum’s Shoes: Pleasure and Pain runs until Sunday 9 October. Joanna Hashagen, the Museum’s Curator of Fashion and Textiles, said: “ Shoes: Pleasure and Pain features shoes worn by or associated with famous icons including David Beckham, Sarah JessicaParker, The Honorable Daphne Guinness, Queen Victoria and Kylie Minogue. But it also explores extreme footwear such as tiny 19 th Century lotus shoes made for the Chinese tradition of foot binding.
“Each section is a visual cornucopia of different shapes, styles, materials and colours. They are presented as very beautiful objects, many telling fascinating stories.
“Organised by the V&A, the exhibition displays more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary men’s and women’s shoes by 70 named designers, including Christian
Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Prada, many from the V& A’s unrivalled collection.
“Exploring the agony and the ecstasy of footwear throughout 2,000 years of history, it also examines the elation and passion they can arouse in the wearer and it is proving extremely popular.”
Cllr Simon Henig – Leader of Durham County Council – said: “I believe Durham’s summer of culture is unrivalled nationally. Kynren: an epic tale of England, Open Treasure, The Flying Scotsman, Shoes: Pleasure and Pain and a packed programme or commemorations marking 100 years since the Somme including the dramatic and moving immersive experience 1916: No Turning Back are among the highlights.
“Not only is this programme world-class, it’s unique and focussed in some of the most dramatic and breath-taking locations in the country – The Bowes Museum, Auckland Castle and the World Heritage Site in the heart of Durham City itself.
“There has never been a better time to explore and celebrate what makes our county so special.”
The county’s Durham Remembers, Somme commemorative programme, includes the critically acclaimed 1916: No Turning Back, which opened at Gala Theatre in Durham City last week and takes audiences on an immersive walkthrough experience during which audiences encounter the sights, sounds and smells of the Somme battlefields. Durham University’s Palace Green Library is also hosting Somme 1916: from Durham to the Western Front – an exhibition exploring the reality of the Battle of the Somme through the eyes of the people from County Durham who were there.
Michelle Gorman, managing director of Visit County Durham, said: “The visitor economy is of enormous value to Durham, with most recent figures showing that the economic value of tourism is worth £752m to the county. This is reflective of the rising profile of Durham as a destination and as a cultural hub, which in turn boosts the number of tourism-related jobs. The unveiling this summer of exciting new events and attractions including live action show, ‘Kynren – an epic tale of England’ and the Open Treasure exhibition experience at Durham Cathedral, also add hugely to the rich cultural experience on offer across the county.”
‘Kynren: an Epic Tale of England’ is promoted as the UK’s most spectacular open-air live action night show since the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics and is listed by Rough Guides as one of the world’s top 10 must-see tourist attractions to experience in 2016. Shows run until Saturday 17 September.
Anne-Isabelle Daulon, Chief Executive Officer of Eleven Arches which stages Kynren said: “We are delighted that four shows into its first season, Kynren is unanimously celebrated as a world- class spectacular by delighted visitors. Kynren is already attracting audiences from all over the world – the US, China, New Zealand and South Africa among others, contributing to firmly establish County Durham as a destination of national and international significance.”
Receiving a standing ovation from its opening night audience earlier this month (July 2), Kynren takes spectators on a spellbinding journey through British history. Taking place on a landscaped open air stage (equivalent to five football pitches with a full-size lake at its centre) against the backdrop of Auckland Castle, you will be immersed in 2,000 years of history, with a movie-like, fast-paced and action-packed journey from Roman times to the Second World War, through the Viking invasions, the splendour of the Tudors, the Industrial Revolution and the Roaring Twenties. As the story unfolds you’ll be treated to ships and a steam train, mass choreography, combat, dance, dazzling pyrotechnics and grandiose lighting and water effects.
BRASS – With more than a nod to the county’s proud association with and love for brass, thousands of people turned out to celebrate Durham County Council’s BRASS festival’s 10 th birthday. The annual celebration of County Durham’s musical culture and traditions featured 199 performers from seven countries across two continents. Brass performances will also feature throughout the summer at the internationally renowned Beamish Museum and at Wharton Park – the stunning green centre piece a short walk from the centre of Durham City and which reopened this summer following a multimillion pound refurbishment.
Economic Impact of tourism in Durham
18.67 million people visited Durham in 2015, up by 3% on the previous year.
The number of days visitors spent in the destination also grew by 3% to 21.05
Overall visitor expenditure stands at £777 million, up by 2% year on year.
The number of people directly employed in tourism in Durham in 2015 stood at million visitor days.
The number of overnight visitors to Durham stands at 1.43 million with these
Day visitor levels have grown by 3% to 17.24 million, with expenditure levels
92% of all visits are day visits with these visitors accounting for 60% of all 8,776, up by 2%. When indirect employment in the supply chain is taken into account total employment stands at 10,961, up by 2%. visitors spending 3.8 million nights in the destination. These visitors spend £314 million while in Durham, up by 1% on 2014. also up by 3% to £463 million. expenditure.
Average expenditure for overnight visitors is £150.43 per trip while the average day visitor spend is £19.92.