When it comes to Durham, no one knows the county better than the people who live here. That's why we asked Durham's residents to share with us what they love about our amazing county, to uncover Durham's many hidden gems. 

Planning a getaway to Durham? Check out the list below of unmissable events according to Durham's residents, so you can time your visit right and join the celebrations.

group of people standing around sheep in pens at Wolsingham Show

Agricultural Shows

Across the county you’ll find many amazing agricultural shows taking place throughout the year, including Sedgefield Show – held on the second Saturday of August for over 160 years, the annual Stanhope Show – held on the second weekend in September, and Wolsingham Show - England's oldest agricultural show!

This traditional Durham Dales show is also the county’s biggest open air agricultural show, taking place on the first weekend of September every year. Across the weekend you'll find lots of family friendly activities celebrating Durham's farming culture including an artisan food market, craft tents, donkey rides, live music, tractor rides, sheep dog trials and livestock, plus lots more traditional agricultural fun. 

group of people watching firework display at 11Arches Park

Bonfire Night Displays 

Remember, remember the 5th of November! Well in Durham you certainly won't forget, with spectacular firework displays taking place across the county, including the annual seaside display at Seaham, the popular Chester-le-Street Cricket Club event, and the UK’s largest seated Pyromusical at 11Arches Park, Bishop Auckland. 

group of woman admiring a market stall at the Christmas Market in Durham Cathedral cloisters

Christmas Markets 

Durham has Christmas all wrapped up, with an amazing line up of yuletide fayres and markets taking place throughout the festive season at venues and towns across the county. The historic cobbled streets of Durham City are transformed on the first weekend of December for the annual Durham City Christmas Festival, with over 400 indoor and outdoor stalls to browse alongside exciting entertainment.

The galleries and grounds of The Bowes Museum come alive every December with the aromas, sights and sounds of the ever popular annual Christmas Market, and soak up the atmosphere at Raby Castle’s Christmas Market, where the castle’s coachyard is filled with beautiful stalls from local suppliers and producers. 

author signing a book at Durham Book Festival

Durham Book Festival

Founded in 1990, the annual celebration of all things book takes over venues across historic Durham City and the wider county every October with a host of well-known authors, book-based discussions and interactive events.

brass band playing music on Framwellgate Bridge with Durham Castle in background.

Durham Brass Festival 

Get in the swing of things every summer and celebrate all things brass at the annual Durham Brass Festival. A county-wide celebration of brass-inspired music-making, with brilliant bands and musicians from across the globe descending on Durham. 

brass bands and people parade through streets of Durham City during the annual Durham Miners Gala

Durham Miners Gala 

The annual Miners Gala gathering has been held on the second Saturday of July in Durham City since 1871. Known as the world's greatest celebration of community, international solidarity, and working-class culture. Visitors and locals alike descend on Durham City for the ‘big meeting’ to behold the amazing sight of banner groups and brass bands marching along the medieval streets, browse stalls, enjoy the fun fair, soak up the carnival atmosphere, and listen to the platform speeches.

people standing on riverbanks in Durham City watching the Durham Regatta with Durham Cathedral in the background

Durham Regatta

Dating back to to 1834, Durham Regatta is the second oldest regatta in the UK. Usually held at the beginning of June, spectators can enjoy a packed weekend of racing and riverside entertainment along the banks of the River Wear, including funfair rides, live music, market stalls and delicious food and drink. The two-day event regularly boasts over 250 entries, racing over a 700-metre course in the heart of historic Durham City. 

bog stood outside Durham Cathedral with ice sculpture at Fire and Ice Festival

Fire and Ice

Every February half term Durham City is transformed into a winter wonderland, as ice sculptures and flaming beacons burst into life across the city. Families can follow the flame lit trail through the city to spot beautiful hand carved ice sculptures, live ice carving sculptures and a spectacular evening finale show featuring music, fire, dancing water and lighting.

stunt performers on horse back during Fina and the Golden Cape show at 11Arches Park

Kynren and 11Arches Park

Travel through 2000 years of history in one evening at Kynren – An Epic Tale of England! Voted one of the top 5 performances to see in the UK by TripAdvisor, the UK’s most spectacular open-air live show takes place every summer in Bishop Auckland. Plus visitors can now explore the newly opened 11Arches Park, filled with immersive attractions and exhilarating live action shows, including the Viking Village, animal croft, and amazing Fina and the Golden Cape stunt show.

Durham Castle illuminated with artwork during Lumiere Festival

Lumiere Durham

The UK’s largest light festival returns to transform Durham City every other November. The bi-annual light festival takes place across four magical nights, and illuminates Durham’s well-known landmarks and impressive buildings in delightful and unexpected ways with incredible light artworks designed by local, national and international light artists.

group of people watching band play at Durham Jazz Festival

The Durham City Jazz Festival

Get into the groove at Durham City Jazz Festival, which has something new to offer every year, with talented local, national and international jazz artists and musicians performing at various venues across the city.

Check out our dedicated what’s on page, to find out what events are happening in Durham when you plan on visiting.

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