Durham Cathedral will open at night as a one-time free treat for visitors

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An overnight-only experience is offered at Durham Cathedral in May, inviting visitors to explore the famous landmark after dark.

For one night only, on May 23, the cathedral will open from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. for people to enjoy what promises to be an atmospheric walk. The rare event is free, but it will be possible to pay for additional treats at night, including seeing its treasures and climbing its renovated central tower.

The cathedral – a global tourist attraction – is hosting the event as part of a Cathedrals at Night initiative: a new campaign taking place across the country to show historic and sacred places in, quite literally, a new light. In Durham, the late opening will be a chance to explore the building after dark and add a candle to a giant St Cuthbert’s cross on the ground.

Read more: Durham Cathedral Museum reopens after Covid restrictions

Although admission is free for the event, those wishing to pay for additional perks at night will need to book tickets in advance. These include a chance to climb the 325 steps of the cathedral tower to see the city lights and look inside the historic ‘Song School’, a backstage area – originally a 15th century library where choristers now practice – which is rarely open to the public.

Half-price entry will also be on offer at Durham Cathedral Museum, formerly known as the Open Treasure, which only fully reopened in April following Covid restrictions. This contains the likes of the 7th century coffin of Saint Cuthbert and his jeweled pectoral cross.

The museum is also featuring a new exhibition which reveals the cathedral’s royal connections over the years with exhibits including photographs of the Queen’s visits and handwritten letters from monarchs such as Elizabeth l. Entrance to the museum is through the monks’ dormitory, which dates back to the days of a monastery and whose main attraction is an original 15th-century oak timber roof. The museum itself is housed in the former Great Kitchen.

Tickets are available to book now and those for the museum are available here for £3.75 (under 16s free) or there is an annual pass option for £15. Tickets to climb the central tower cost £5.50, or £2.50 for ages 8-16 and free for carers or caregivers: see here. Those visiting the Song School, which is up a flight of stairs, can be bought here for £5.

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