Culture

Boasting a wide array of festivals, including the UK’s largest light festival Lumière, not to mention an impressive range of museums, visitor centres and art galleries, Durham is a city that makes the most of its history and culture.


Galleries

Tucked away on the cobbled South Street lies the unassuming Crushed Chilli Gallery. Run by Janet Rogers who specialises in stained glass and fused glass, the gallery showcases a small but action-packed array of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glassware, jewellery and textiles.

An eight-minute walk from our Durham City Centre hotel, the Old Hall South Street Gallery holds fused glass workshops where you can make your own creations and, if you’re looking for gifts or something to take home, you’ll find professional-grade crafts on sale in the shop too.

Crushed Chilli Gallery


Museums

From the time travelling and highly innovative Beamish Museum that literally recreates an industrial era village, to visitor centres and museums that explain and explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains the city’s cathedral and castle, Durham’s vivid history is dramatically brought to life via the city’s array of museums.

Head to our guide dedicated to Durham museums to find out more.


Festivals

Live music festivals, stunning state-of-the-art lighting festivals, book festivals and even brass festivals – Durham is a city constantly celebrating the good times.

A two-day music festival, Hardwick Live has welcomed pop and indie names like Ocean Colour Scene, Gabrielle, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and more to its stage over the last few years. Held at Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield, a 25-minute drive from Durham, the festival features a dance music stage, comedy tent and a range of camping options, including glamping for those who can’t bear to be away from their mod cons. Held in 2017 and scheduled to return in August 2018, the festival is the largest in the north east.

Durham is lit up by an incredible variety of light installations every second November as part of Lumière Durham. Running from 4.30pm to 11pm over four nights, the free entry festival sees the city’s historic buildings beautifully lit up during the cold winter nights. The event now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every two years (with the next festival due in 2019). Along with the installations, illuminated buildings and sculptures, the city is also awash with 3D projections, memorably including an elephant walking over Elvet Bridge in the heart of the city in 2013.

Attracting star writers like Philip Pullman, Bill Bryson and P.D. James, the Durham Book Festival takes place every October across a range of venues and outlets in the city. Including workshops, Q&A sessions, talks, discussions, book signings, poetry sessions and more, it’s a fascinating two-week long celebration of literature and a must for any budding authors and bookworms.

Durham Brass Festival aims to change your perception of the brass sound and bring its definition to a brand new audience. The week-long celebration of all things brass is held every July with brass interpretations of Broadway classics, pop-up bands across the city and celebrations of brass culture from Northern Soul to Motown to the jazz greats.

Celebrating Christian history and culture in the north east, Open Treasure at Durham Cathedral showcases artefacts dating back to the 3rd Century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Open Treasure took three years to compile and includes burial stones and medieval manuscripts that have never been displayed before, along with a fascinating look at a medieval dormitory that housed dozens of Benedictine monks.


Looking for a hotel in Durham?

Choose from any one of our three main Durham hotels plus our nearby hotels at Newton Aycliffe and Newcastle (Washington) as an ideal base for exploring the fabulous medieval treasures of Durham, an ancient university city that boasts a vibrant cultural scene.