25 reasons why Durham should be the UK City of Culture’s first county-wide winner in 2025


Durham is no ordinary county, nor would we be an ordinary winner. Here is 25 reasons why Durham is set to be the first holder of the title of city of culture in the UK in 2025…

It’s time for the next city of culture to be a county, and there are very few counties as diverse as Durham. We have so much to offer and so much potential.

2 Our partnership approach

Durham has a proud history of working together to achieve amazing things, and our UK City of Culture 2025 bid is no exception. Durham County Council, Durham University and Culture Durham – a partnership of over 20 cultural organizations across the county – are spearheading the campaign and hundreds of local residents and creative professionals have helped shape the candidacy.

3 We look to the future

Our offering is called Into the Light: The Past We Inherit, The Future We Build. This captures the proud historic motto of the Durham Miners’ Association and places it at the heart of a deeply rooted and dazzling cultural programme.

4 Our UNESCO World Heritage Site

Durham Castle, the former residence of the powerful Prince-Bishops, and Durham Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in the world, along with the historic buildings nestled between these two iconic attractions, have been one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites to be designated, in 1986. It’s no wonder people come from all over the world to see it.

5 Our dark skies

The North Pennines Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO Global Geopark not only offers spectacular daytime scenery, it has more dark sky discovery sites than anywhere else in the UK. Marvel at the night sky in all its glory at Grassholme Observatory or the annual Stargazing Festival.

6 Our Vibrant Communities

From urban to rural, large to small, our towns and villages are certainly diverse, but they all have one thing in common: they are all amazing places and home to amazing people who are sure to provide you with the warmest receptions. Securing UK City of Culture 2025 would further empower our residents and build civic pride.

7 Our supporters

Thousands of residents, businesses, artists, performers, writers, broadcasters, scholars and many more have supported our bid. We even have the backing of North East music icon Sting, who said: “Durham’s selection would provide a much-needed spotlight on the unique and important culture that is the North East.”

8 We are a place of light

Light lights up Durham every two years, bringing a spectacular program of artworks and installations, featuring works by internationally renowned artists as well as local and emerging talent. Over a million people have attended Lumiere since its launch in 2009, bringing visitors to the county, boosting local businesses and putting Durham in the spotlight of the world.

9 Our world-class tourist attractions

From Beamish, The Living Museum of the North and Auckland Castle, to the startling sight of French castle-inspired grandeur at the Bowes Museum, our extraordinary county is full of incredible attractions to discover.

10 Our proud industrial heritage

Fine stone for mining, as well as coal, lead and iron ore for mining, have positioned the county on the international industrial map. Durham’s unique and inspiring annual Big Meeting celebrates our community spirit and working culture, the foundations on which the region’s thriving new science, technology and engineering industries have been built.

11 We stand for diversity

Inclusiveness is at the heart of our bid. We seize the opportunity to celebrate difference, challenge preconceptions about art, and champion the artistry of people of all abilities and backgrounds. We believe it is vital that culture is accessible to all and that as the UK City of Culture we can lead by example.

12 Our fantastic festivals

Whether it’s the many mouth-watering delights of our food festivals, the bestsellers of the Durham Book Festival or the rousing sounds of the Brass Festival, prepare to be entertained.

13 We are the birthplace of the railways

Hundreds of people gathered in Shildon to salute Locomotion No. 1 on its maiden voyage in 1825, and in 2025 we will be at the heart of international celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Thanks to a £5.9 million redevelopment, the Locomotion Museum in Shildon will soon house the largest museum collection of historic railway vehicles in Europe. The railway heritage continues today in Durham with a new generation of high-speed trains being built at Hitachi Rail Europe’s Newton Aycliffe factory.

14 Our culinary heroes

From freshly baked bread and cakes to artisan cheeses and fine dining experiences, our county is home to some of the UK’s finest chefs and producers. Our annual food festivals, along with our award-winning restaurants and producers, provide a real taste of Durham.

15 Our youth

Young people are our future and that’s why they are at the heart of everything we do. Whether it’s developing an inclusive economic strategy or contributing to the cultural offer of the department, we want the voice of young people to be heard. As UK City of Culture 2025, we will build on this and create opportunities for young people now and in the future.

16 Our international connections

Our riding may be unique, but it is not isolated. We have strong regional, national and international relationships that have shaped the county we are today. Through twinning arrangements, festivals, and activities in schools and community venues, we celebrate other cultures. The Durham Global Alliance, launched last year, will create even more opportunities to broaden our horizons.

17 We are building a prosperous future

Durham County Council is working with residents and businesses to develop an inclusive economic strategy for the county. Culture-driven regeneration is a key part of this and will play a crucial role in boosting our creative and tourism economies. Securing UK City of Culture 2025 would support these ambitions and the government’s upgrade programme.

18 We think outside the box

Always expect the unexpected in Durham. Whether it’s Victor Pasmore’s iconic Apollo Pavilion in a Peterlee housing estate that inspired Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North; a rave marching band in a Durham City car park, or the Old Cinema Launderette – a traditional launderette by day, a quirky concert hall by night – our creativity and ambition know no bounds.

19 We support talent in the North East

We want to create as many opportunities as possible for people in the North East to shine. Gala Durham not only stages touring shows, it also produces its own, bringing in actors, writers, directors and others from across the North East. Our festivals, on the other hand, see international artists perform alongside talent from the North East. As the UK’s cultural city, Durham can truly take center stage on the world stage.

20 Our sportsmanship

When it comes to getting active, we’re on a mission to get more people moving, whether that’s investing in our recreation centers and parks, improving bike paths or support grassroots sports. Add to that the Durham City Run Festival, Tour Series, Durham Regatta and International Cricket Ground and it’s clear we’re top of the league.

21 A place of great thinkers

Durham University is one of the most prestigious universities in the UK, well known for its academic excellence, pioneering research and the quality of its graduates. Its contribution to the county’s cultural offering is also significant, which is why it is a key partner in the Durham 2025 campaign.

22 A green power plant

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity and culture has a role to play in addressing this issue. After declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the county set ambitious environmental goals. Our bid for City of Culture in the UK aims to celebrate our journey from coal mining juggernaut to green power station.

23 Our literary links

Our landscapes, our industry and our people have inspired poets and writers throughout the ages. Charles Dickens visited Barnard Castle while researching his novel, Nicholas Nickleby; a poem about Durham by Sir Walter Scott – a frequent visitor to the county – adorns the town’s Prebends Bridge, and the eminent Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born in Coxhoe Hall in 1806. Today the annual book festival of Durham brings a vibrant mix of short stories and bestselling authors to the county.

24 As Seen On Screen

Durham has appeared in big-screen blockbusters such as the magical Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; coming-of-age drama, Billy Elliott; the superhero epic Avenger’s Endgame and Oscar winner Sam Mende, 1917; plus TV favorites including Downton Abbey and crime shows Vera and George Gently. But the county has so much more to show. A new North East Screen Industries partnership will help grow our film and television industry, unleash creative talent in our region, and provide employment and training opportunities.

25 The Beginning Of Something Epic

Durham 2025 will lay the foundations for a remarkable future. This will instill confidence in our county and our communities. By illuminating what we have and what we are capable of together, it will create a lasting belief that we deserve success, that we are ready for anything and that we have the energy to try the unusual, to do the unexpected. and be exceptional. Durham 2025 is the start of something epic.

  • Please use #Durham2025 to share your reasons why Durham should win.

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