From comedy nights and feel good festivals, to outdoor theatre, and spectacular live actions shows, its all happening this summer in Durham. 

Check out our top picks of unmissable live events to look forward to this summer. 

people sat outdoors in Wharton Park, Durham City watching a live performance

Horrible Histories at Wharton Park

Are you ready to swing with a Georgian king? Can you see eye to eye with Admiral Nelson? Does the Duke of Wellington get the boot and get in the groove with Queen Victoria at Horrible Histories: Gorgeous Georgians & Vile Victorians, outside and live at Wharton Park’s amphitheatre, Durham City. Don’t miss this horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in!

When? Friday 23 July – 4.30pm and 7pm and Saturday 24 July – 11am and 2pm. 

close up of a microphone

Live comedy at Bishop Auckland Town Hall 

Hilarity Bites Comedy Club is bringing the best comedians from the UK and international comedy circuit to the newly renovated Bishop Auckland Town Hall. Laugh out loud with mixed bill shows, preview shows from big name acts and hilarious up and coming acts. 

When? 7.30pm Fridays 16 July, 20 August, 17 September and 22 October 2021.  

Dave Chafer, who plays Peter Taylor, and Luke Dickson, who plays Brian Clough, in The Damned United.

Live theatre returns to Gala Durham 

The doors of Gala Theatre have re-opened in Durham City, with an incredible line up of summer shows including The Damned United - the first live performance at the Gala in over a year! Red Ladder Theatre Company will be bringing its take on David Peace’s acclaimed football novel The Damned United to Gala’s stage.  

Theatre lovers can also enjoy a fresh look at the Gala Theatre, including new flooring and seating in the auditorium, as well as a new-look box office, display screens, signage and furniture. Plus a brand new menu at the in-house café. 

When? 7.30pm, Friday 9 July 2021

sing the musicals advert

Music filled evenings at Emirates Riverside 

Throughout the summer the grounds of the world-famous Emirates Riverside at Chester-le-Street will come alive with incredible musical performances. Book your tickets today and treat yourself to a fun filled evening singing along to your favourites as the sun sets. 

Friday 16 July: An Evening of Queen
Saturday 17 July: Massaoke: Sing the Musicals 
Friday 17 September: An Evening of Tina

performers on stage during the night time with crowd watching at Hardwick Live Festival

Music in the Park 

The North East’s biggest festival – Hardwick Festival returns to Hardwick Park this summer with top International musicians and bands including Rag’n’ Bone Man, Nile Rodgers & Chic and Maximo Park to name but a few, for an incredible weekend of music in the park. 

When? Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 August 2021

outdoor performance in the grounds of Raby Castle with crowd sat watching

Raby Castle outdoor theatre and cinema 

Throughout the summer visitors can enjoy an amazing line up of outdoor entertainment in the beautiful grounds of Raby Castle. From theatre in the walled gardens, to family favourites on the big screen and a production of David Walliams’ best-seller Mr Stink, there’s something for all ages to enjoy. 

Theatre in the Walled Gardens – The Great Gatsby: Saturday 17 July, 7.30pm and Mr Stink: Saturday 28 August, 6.30pm. 
Outdoor Cinema – Friday 13 August: Trolls World Tour, 5pm and A Star is Born, 8.15pm, Saturday 14 August: Moana, 5pm and Dirty Dancing, 8.15pm and Sunday 15 August: The Greatest Showman, 5pm and 1917, 8.15pm 

The Castle Players preforming to a crowd in the grounds of Bowes Museum

Shakespeare at The Bowes Museum

Join the Castle Players for their popular summer theatre production on the back lawn of The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle with The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Bring a picnic and blankets and get comfy for an evening of hilarious comedy influenced by all of Shakespeare’s plays. 

When? Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 July at 2pm and Saturday 10 July at 7pm

Kynren finale performance with fireworks lighting up the night sky

Spectacular live action show Kynren returns 

The successful evening spectacular Kynren – An Epic Tale of England, ranked in Trip Advisor’s ‘Top Five Shows to See in the UK’ returns to Bishop Auckland this summer. Plus new for 2021 you can now visit 11Arches Park by day and enjoy incredible shows, interactive and immersive attractions to suit families of all ages. 

After exploring the new park take your seat at 4pm for the afternoon’s crowning glory, the latest original show ‘Fina and the Golden Cape’ on the panoramic outdoor stage. Followed by the grand evening performance of Kynren, which brings history to life with a blockbuster open-air performance. Two thousand years of history, myth and legend rush by in 90 minutes as we join young Arthur on his epic quest.

When? Kynren shows are every Saturday 6-10pm, 7-28 August and 5.30-10.30pm on the 4 and 11 September 2021.

11Arches Park will be open every Saturday from 7-28 August, 12-6pm and from 11.30am-5.30pm on the 4 and 11 September 2021. 

performers take a bow on the stage at Witham, Barnard Castle

Summertime performances at The Witham 

From expert workshops, to new theatre productions, Edinburgh Fringe previews, opera, and summer busking. There’s lots of live shows to enjoy at The Witham in Barnard Castle.

celebrity chef line up at Seaham Food Festival

Top TV chef workshops and demonstrations 

Seaham Food Festival will return to Durham Heritage Coast this summer with a tasty line up of local producers and top TV Chefs, including Rosemary Sharger, Mike Bartley, John Whaite and Chris Baber. Enjoy live demonstrations, workshops and much more across the weekend. 

When? Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 August

Durham Fringe

Durham Fringe

The first Durham Fringe features twenty-seven companies putting on over 100 performances in 4 great venues in Durham City. From magic, dance, stand-up, an aerial act and live bands, to five new music showcases, cabaret and great theatre. All the things you might expect in a fringe festival and it’s all coming to Durham City.

When? Wednesday 28 July to Sunday 1 August.

Head over to our what’s on page to find out more about amazing events happening across the county this summer.  




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