2019 is set to be an unmissable year, with a packed programme of festivals, events and openings -  you’re certain to have an unforgettable time on a short break in Durham.

We've picked 19 of the most exciting events, festivals and openings we are most looking forward to in 2019

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100 years of the Forestry Commission

Celebrate a 100 years of the Forestry Commission at Hamsterley Forest with a whole host of exciting events taking place throughout the year to mark this incredible milestone. 

From wildlife spotting, dog friendly walks and dark sky gazing, to family friendly adventures, horse riding trails and exhilarating mountain bike trails. No matter what time of year you visit you're guaranteed to have a wild time at Hamsterley Forest.


Auckland Castle

The 900-year-old former home of the Prince Bishops of Durham found in the Vale of Durham, will once again welcome visitors in 2019 after multi-million pound conservation work is complete.

Auckland Castle will be brought back to its Georgian Gothic splendour, alongside new interpretation which tells the stories of the Prince Bishops of Durham over the centuries.


Bishop Auckland Food Festival

The largest food festival in the North East - Bishop Auckland Food Festival returns to Durham from 13-14 April.  Growing year on year hosting a whole programme of events and activities including celebrity chefs, cookery demo’s, street entertainment and a demonstration kitchen.


Durham Book Festival

Founded in 1990, the annual celebration of all things book returns to take over historic Durham City from 5 - 13 October, with a host of household names, book-based discussions and interactive events.  

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Durham Brass and Miners Gala

Get in the summer swing July 2019 and celebrate all things brass with the welcome return of Durham Brass Festival – a county-wide celebration of brass-inspired music-making, with brilliant bands and musicians from across the globe descending on Durham. 

Visitors will also be able to join in the traditional mining heritage celebrations at the 135th Durham Miner's Gala (13 July). The event which takes over Durham City includes funfair, stalls, brass bands and marches plus lots more. 

Durham Cathedral Tower

The long awaited re-opening of Durham Cathedral’s Central Tower is welcome news for visitors who have been waiting eagerly to climb the tower to enjoy the stunning unrivalled views across Durham City and beyond. Dates to be confirmed, but rest assured there'll be grand re-opening celebrations to enjoy as well as a new visitor platform.  


Durham Christmas Festival 

Durham’s award-winning Traditional Christmas Festival has Christmas all wrapped up with three days of festive fun across the city from 29 November - 1 December 2019. The festival transforms Durham City into a Christmas wonderland featuring over 200 indoor and outdoor stalls, local producers market inside the stunning Durham Cathedral Cloisters, street entertainment, children’s lantern parade, live music plus lots more. 


Durham Regatta 

Join a spectacular weekend of racing and River Wear side entertainment at the 186th Durham Regatta, 8 - 9 June. The two-day event regularly boats over 250 entries, racing over a 700m course.

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Durham Vocal Festival

The 3rd Annual Durham Vocal Festival promises to be even bigger and more exciting than ever, with world famous artists, thousands of performers and Two World Premieres. From 26 January - 6 February the festival celebrates the vibrant vocal music both regionally and nationally. 


ICC Cricket World Cup

Durham is definitely the place to be this summer, as Durham's Riverside Stadium hosts three unmissable world cup cricket matches in June and July. Don't worry if you don't have tickets for a match, the whole county will come alive with a festival atmosphere including exciting celebrations and fan zones popping up across the county. 


Kynren – an epic tale of England

The UK’s most spectacular open-air live show, voted one of the top 5 performances to see in the UK by Tripadvisor returns to Durham in 2019. This live-action extravaganza will take you on a whistle stop tour of 2,000 years of history, myth and legend. 

The 2019 season of Kynren runs from Saturday 29 June until Saturday 14 September.

Locomotion Festival of Steam

Locomotion's Steam Season opens with a spectacular three-day celebration of magnificent engines, from 4 - 6 May Festival of Steam

Experience the awe-inspiring power of steam at Locomotion, as the museum welcomed some very special engines including engines - Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn's Eustace Forth.  A supporting cast of steam transport vehicles will be on outdoor display in light steam, creating an unforgettable atmosphere.  Indoors ignite your curiosity with steam era-themed model railways, sensory experiences and hands-on family learning activities.
 

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Lumiere Durham 

The UK’s largest light festival returns to Durham City for its 10th anniversary edition, with four magical evenings from 14 to 17 November. The festival will light up Durham City with artworks and installations that will include some of the most popular from the previous five festivals, illuminating the city in delightful and unexpected ways. 


Remaking Beamish 

Beamish – The Living Museum of the North is celebrating the largest single investment ever seen with a £10.9million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Remaking Beamish project.

The centrepiece will be a reconstructed 1950s Town, which will include houses, shops, café, cinema, and recreation areas. The first of the Remaking Beamish developments opened in 2018 - Joe the Quilters Cottage, a recreation of the “lost” home of the renowned Georgian quilter, who was murdered in 1826. Summer 2019 will see the opening of the 1950s Welfare Hall, the first exhibit to open in The 1950s Town.


Seaham Food Festival

Durham Coast’s first ever seaside food festival takes place on 8-9 June. Set in the lively harbour town of Seaham, the Seaham Food Festival will bring a host of culinary delights to Durham’s Heritage Coast, with top chefs, fabulous traders and producers, and tasty demonstrations to get the taste buds tingling. 


SOLD at The Bowes Museum

What better place to explore 200 years of antique dealing than at The Bowes Museum, in the heart of one of  Britain’s favourite Antique Towns - Barnard Castle.

SOLD! 200 Years of Antique Dealing in Britain, opens on 26 January until 5 May, is the first time the history of antique dealing has been the subject of an exhibition in a public museum, with an in depth look at antique dealers, their taste and eye for objects, their shops and practices.

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The North Pennines Stargazing Festival

The third North Pennines Stargazing Festival returns to the Durham Dales during October and November half term, with a star studded line up of exciting events, activities and talks.

Celebrating the magnificent dark skies of the North Pennines AONB (the darkest mainland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) there'll be out of this world events, both seasoned stargazers and amateur astronomers can enjoy.


The Tour Series

A firm favourite with cycling fans from across the North of England, supporters will be able to cheer on Britain's fastest teams as they tackle the fearsome Durham City circuit, including the infamous cobbled climb of South Street in 2019. Dates to be confirmed. 


Wolsingham Show

England's oldest and Durham's biggest open air agricultural show returns this September to the stunning Durham Dales town of Wolsingham. 

Across the weekend you'll find lots of family friendly activities celebrating Durham's farming culture including artisan food market, craft tents, donkey rides, dog agility show, live music, tractor rides, sheep dog trials and heavy livestock, plus lots more traditional agricultural fun. 

If you think you know Durham, think again! 

To find out more about what's happening in Durham throughout 2019 click here. 

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