If you get the feeling that your staycations each year are getting a little ‘been there done that’, it’s time to banish the tourism fatigue by heading to Durham!

Durham is unlike anywhere else in the UK. From travelling back in time at Beamish, The Living Museum of The North, to meeting the much loved musical Silver Swan at The Bowes Museum, Durham offers a rich and diverse range of unique experiences that are sure to make your trip one to remember.

view of the exterior of Spain Field Farm at Beamish Museum

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Where? Beamish Village, DH9 0RG

Beamish Museum is a world-famous, open-air museum, dedicated to recreating the past in a way that makes you feel like you’ve jumped into a time machine. From the 1820’s through the 1950’s, you will enjoy everything Beamish has to offer.

Having launched its brand new 50s Front Street Terrace this year, including Spain Field Farm which tells the story of upland farming in the North East, Elizabeth’s Hairdressers where you can get a classic updo, and a deliciously retro café serving up mouthwatering macaroni cheese and ice cream, Beamish is the perfect way to journey from through the decades. 

Blogger Kate Stanforth admiring the silver swan and a sign by the exhibition

The Silver Swan at Bowes Museum

Where? Newgate, Barnard Castle DL12 8NP

Described by celebrated American writer Mark Twain as having “a living grace about his movement and a living intelligence in his eyes”, the Silver Swan musical automation at The Bowes Museum is not something you want to miss. Having been exhibited since the 17th century, it has bewitched onlookers of all ages for hundreds of years.

Being older than the USA, the swan is very fragile and conservation and repair work is currently ongoing within the Museum. However, visitors can see how the Swan comes apart, its mechanisms, and the team’s approach to the big job of repairing the swan’s head. The intricacies of the life-size, breathtakingly beautiful swan will make your jaw drop.

People walking through the Spanish Art Gallery at The Auckland Project, Bishop Auckland

The Spanish Gallery

Where? The Auckland Project, Market Place, Bishop Auckland DL14 7JF

Francisco de Zurbarán’s collection of masterpieces, Jacob and His Twelve Sons, have hung in Auckland Castle Long Dining Room for more than 250 years. These stunning works of art form the focal point for The Spanish Gallery - the UK's first gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Here you can marvel at the UK's largest collection of 16th and 17th-century Spanish artworks (outside London) that depict Spain’s Golden Age and the tension between the yearning for eternity and the self-evident transience of life. Plus don't miss a taste of Spain at the gallery's newly opened Tapas restaurant. 

Family with a tour guide stop and admire artefacts on display inside Durham Cathedral Museum

Durham Cathedral Museum

Where? Durham Cathedral, Durham City, DH1 3EH

The Durham Cathedral Museum allows visitors to get immersed in over 2,000 years of rich Northern History, and explore the culture and faith that defined life in the time of St Cuthbert. 

St Cuthbert’s very own treasures can be discovered in the octagonal Great Kitchen including his hand-carved 7th-century wooden coffin and his famous Pectoral Cross. 

From 5th April to 3rd July 2022, Durham Cathedral Museum is also hosting a brand new exhibition, Crown and Cathedral: Durham’s Royal Stories. To celebrate the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee, why not learn all about the concept of the Monarchy and how it was received in Durham over the years. You can also feast your eyes on unique items such as the royal cope worn by the Bishop of Durham at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, George VI, George V, and Edward VII. 

children running and playing in the Plotter's Forest playground at Raby Castle

The Plotters’ Forest at Raby Castle 

Where? Raby Castle, Park and Gardens, Staindrop, Darlington, DL2 3AH

For kids and grown-ups who consider themselves to be seasoned rulebreakers, The Plotters’ Forest at Raby Castle is the perfect place to tap into your rebellious side. 

Inspired by momentous events like The Rising of The North in 1569, The Plotters’ Forest adventure playground is home to forest trails, high walkways and towers. Since being a villain requires a level of shrewdness, take the opportunity to test your recall skills by playing the giant memory game, send fellow plotters clever coded messages and check no sneaky spies are behind you in the mischief mirrors. 

The view of Durham City and cathedral from Durham Cathedral central tower

The Central Tower at Durham Cathedral

Where? Durham Cathedral, Durham City, DH1 3EH

If you want exhilarating views of Durham’s glorious city centre and the lush countryside it's nestled within, climbing the central tower at Durham Cathedral is sure to elevate your trip (pun intended).

There are 325 steps to climb, but the birds-eye view is absolutely worth it. Visitors can also see the recent restoration work completed in 2019, and listen out for the dramatic sound of the ten bells in the central tower. 

The Magic Corner, Durham City

The Magic Corner

Where? 19 Old Elvet, Durham City, DH1 3HL

Durham’s uniqueness is no illusion! With its custom-built magic room, the captivating Magic Corner, located in Durham City, is ideal if you want a mesmerising experience from start to finish. 

Magician Tom Bolton, who was recently accepted into the prestigious ‘Magic Circle’ in London, hosts an interactive show, where he performs sleight of hand tricks and enchanting, modern magic leaving you lost for words.

Food & drink and accommodation choices are also abundant in Durham, why not check out our 'Only in Durham' page to build an experience you won’t forget? 

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