Across the county you’ll find a wealth of exciting events, adventurous activities, world-class attractions and must-see exhibitions happening throughout 2020. So, no matter what time of year you plan to visit, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable time in Durham.  

Here’s our round up of must do things this year in Durham.   

The Bowes Museum, Beamish Museum, Durham City and North Pennines AONB

1. Be inspired by the amazing collections at The Bowes Museum 

Home to internationally significant fine & decorative art collections, this magnificent French style chateau has been delighting visitors for over 120 years. Alongside the outstanding permanents collections, you’ll find a fantastic programme of ever-changing exhibitions to be amazed by, including the current LEGO®: Building The Bowes Museum (closes 23 February 2020) and the soon to be open Pre-Raphaelite Knights (1 February – 3 May 2020)

2. Celebrate Beamish Museum’s 50th birthday 

In 2020 Beamish, the Living Museum of the North is celebrating its golden jubilee. You can join the celebrations in 2020 with special 50th birthday events and exhibitions taking place throughout the year. The museum opened in 1970 to preserve the region’s heritage and is now the North East’s most visited attraction.  

3. Enjoy a city break in historic Durham City

With world-class attractions and an exciting events programme, 2020 is the perfect time to enjoy an escape to Durham City. With hotels like Hotel Indigo and Radisson Blu, right in  centre of the city you're never to far from  Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site of Durham Cathedral and Castle and other amazing attractions.

As you stroll through the cobbled streets you'll discover a host of independent boutiques alongside high street favourites and an amazing historic indoor market hall - home to over 50 local traders. 

4. Explore the breath-taking landscapes of the North Pennines

The North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark covers much of the Durham Dales, and is the perfect place for a countryside escape. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, the stunning landscapes and changing seasons are guaranteed to take your breath away. There’s lots to discover, whether you're exploring on two feet or two wheels

Eating out in Durham City, Derwent Watrerside Park, Stargazing and hamsterley Forest

5. Get a real taste of Durham 

From coast to countryside and everywhere in between, you'll be spoilt for choice of what’s on the menu in Durham. From quaint countryside pubs and fancy afternoon teas, to award-winning cuisine in luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants and farmers markets. You're certain to have a tasty time in Durham.  

6. Get outside and get active at Derwent Waterside Park 

You’re guaranteed a great adventure at Derwent Waterside Park, found in the northern Durham Dales, with activities to suit all ages and abilities. Enjoy a relaxing walk, see what you can discover on a bike ride, run wild in the playground, take to the water with sailing, windsurfing and open water swimming. You can even learn to fish – a skill which will last a lifetime or create magical after dark memories with a spot of stargazing.  

7. Go stargazing under some of the darkest skies in the UK

Did you know the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark has more nationally recognised Dark Sky Discovery Sites than any other part of the UK! On a stargazing break in Durham you can see the Milky Way in all its glory, distant galaxies and even sparkling star clusters as the county’s skies come alive after dark. 

8. Go wild in the wonderful woodlands of Hamsterley Forest

You can journey through the 200 hectares of wonderful forest on miles of way-marked horse riding and walking trails with plenty of picnic spots along the way. Explore 33 miles of cycling tracks with spectacular views and even go on a Gruffalo hunt! 

Durham Cricket, Kynren, Spas and Seaham Sea glass

9. Have a blast at the Vitality Blast T20 Tournament 

The Vitality T20 Blast returns to Durham Cricket for summer 2020. Alongside nail-biting cricket fixtures you’ll find lots of cricketing fun to be had during the tournament. Grab a selfie with Durham players, relax with a summertime drink in hand as you watch world-class cricket or explore the family zone, with catching zone, batting simulator and speed cage. 

10. Let us entertain you at one of the county’s top ten events

You matter when you choose to visit, there’s certain to be something happening to make your getaway even more enjoyable. From the spectacular outdoor live action show Kynren to the 187th Durham Regatta or England’s oldest open-air agricultural show – Wolsingham Show. Time your visit right and check out our handy guide to the top ten unmissable events in Durham. 

11. Relax and recharge at an award-winning luxury spa 

Whether you’re looking for a spa break or simply a day of indulgence, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Durham, with an incredible selection of luxury spas.

Head to the tranquil Durham Dales and relax at the award-winning Headlam Hall. Escape to the coast for an unforgettable getaway at the five star Seaham Hall or enjoy a pampering package at Rockliffe Hall, voted best spa for wellness at the 2019 Good Spa Guide Awards. 

12. Search for Seaham Sea Glass

Take a stroll along the beautiful beaches of Seaham and you're sure to find some tiny treasures to take home with you. Seaham, on the Durham Heritage Coast is world-famous for its abundance of unique sea glass, so why spend a day at the beach and see how much sea glass you can collect. 

Click here to read our helpful guide on how to hunt for Seaham Sea Glass >>  

Red Squirrels at Killhope, walking in durham dales, dalton park and westlife at durham cricket

13. See what wildlife you can spot

Nature reigns supreme across the county, from the rugged cliffs of the Durham Coast to the spectacular Durham Dales. Home to many rare fauna and flora, Durham is a ‘must-visit’ for nature lovers. From the famous red squirrels who call Killhope their home, to the rare plants which dot the Heritage Coast – the county is busting with beautiful birds, wonderful wildlife and a treasure trove of stunning flora.

14. See what you can discover on the Northern Saints Trails

Durham has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries, and to celebrate 2020 has been designated Durham’s Year of Pilgrimage. 

At the heart of the Year of celebrations is the launch of the Northern Saints Trails, positioning the North East as the ‘Christian Crossroads of the British Isles’. Launching in Spring 2020, the six new trails are based on historic pilgrim routes across the North East, and will promote the region’s Christian heritage but also appeal to those of other faiths, and to those simply looking for relaxation, a walking challenge, or a chance to uncover the region’s fascinating history and landscapes. 

15. Shop til you drop at Dalton Park

Did you know the county is home to the region’s biggest outlet shopping centre. At Dalton Park, you’ll find over 60 outlet shops to visit, with savings of up to 50% off top brands and high street favourites. There’s also plenty of cafes and restaurants to enjoy a quick break from all the shopping. You can even see the latest movie releases on the big screen at the on-site Cineworld cinema. 

16. Sing your heart out at an open air concert. 

Durham Cricket is the place to be this summer with three huge open air concerts taking over the Emirates Riverside Stadium. Global pop kings Westlife will be performing all their greatest hits on 18 July, North East favourites Little Mix will be taking to the stage on 16 July and Grammy award-winning megastar Michael Bublé will be spending at evening at the Riverside on 1 August. 

Raby castle, Durham food festivals, hardwick park and auckland castle.

17. Travel back in time at Raby Castle

Discover more than 600 years of history at Raby Castle – one of the best-preserved medieval castles in England. The castle is surrounded by 200 acres of beautiful parkland and a 18th century walled garden. See how many deer you can spot in the deer park on a relaxing walk or exhilarating bike ride, wander through the beautiful gardens and hear legends from the past as you explore the superb collections inside the castle’s grand rooms. 

18. Treat yourself at a fabulous Food Festivals

Try tempting street food, sample tasty local produce, join a cookery class, listen to live music and be amazed by celebrity chefs at the county’s top food festivals.

Bishop Auckland Food Festival is certain to get your taste buds tingling on 18-19 April, the lively harbour town of Seaham will come alive with culinary delights on 13-14 June and you’ll be spoilt for choice at Rockliffe Hall’s Festival of Food with eight days of special foodie workshops, events and artisan food fair to choose from, 1-8 February. 

19. Unwind as you explore the county’s parks and gardens 

Durham is filled with glorious gardens and magnificent country parks to explore and enjoy. Be amazed by plants and flowers from across the globe at Durham University’s Botanic Garden, and get the perfect view of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site from Wharton Park. Take in the rich heritage and beautiful views at the Victorian Hardwick Park and find an amazing array of outdoors spaces to enjoy at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens

20. Visit the recently re-opened Auckland Castle

Follow in the footsteps of some of the most powerful men in British history at Auckland Castle – the former home of the Prince Bishops of Durham. Journey through a thousand years of history, art, and faith as you explore the castle’s gothic state rooms and grounds. Get an insight into how the Bishops lived in their private apartments, get up close to treasured pieces of art in the Bishop Trevor Gallery, and enjoy a relaxing stroll through the castle’s ancient deer park.   

To see what's on when you visit Durham click here >> 

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