Durham prepares for summer season
PUBLISHED: 01:16 06 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:30 20 February 2013
The summer season in Durham offers a vast array of performance, entertainment and sport. Eileen Smith tries to keep pace with this year's forthcoming action
Visitors to Durham City this summer can expect a feast of fun and entertainment. From marching brass bands, singing and dancing to the annual regatta and first class cricket, theres something for everyone to enjoy.
Durhams Norman cathedral and nearby castle - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - make a stunning backdrop to the drama unfolding on the streets and on the River Wear.
Add to that a plethora of shops, bars, restaurants, museums and other places of interest, and its easy to see why the city is a magnet for both visitors and locals alike.
Among the highlights on offer this year are:
*Durham Regatta, June 11 and 12
*Durham Miners Gala, July 9.
*Durham International Brass Festival, July 1 to 17.
*Durham Folk Party, July 30 and 31.
*Streets of . . . Summer Festivals, August 27 - 29.
*Durham Folkworks Gathering, August (to be confirmed).
*England v India NatWest Series One Day International, September 3 (Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground, Chester le Street).
Next month, Durham will stage its 178th Regatta, which dates back to 1834, and today is seen as one of the most prestigious in the region, attracting competitors from all over the country and around the world.
Last year more than 600 crews, including teams from the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, competed at the event during the Regatta weekend.
Competition is fierce with racing taking place on the racecourse stretch of the River Wear in Durham City. Racing starts on both days at 8.30am, with a race every two minutes until about 6.30pm. A racing timetable will be published on the official website from Monday, June 7.
The event ls hugely popular with the crews from Durham, University, Durham School and Durham Amateur Rowing Club. Indeed last year Durham University regained the title for the Blue Riband event - the Grand Challenge Cup for Elite Coxed Fours in an all- Durham final, cheered on by spectators following the action from the river bank.
Apart from the excitement generated by the rivalry on the river, there are also numerous other attractions to keep visitors happy including a vintage car rally, trade stands, displays, performance and musical entertainment.
The BRASS: Durham International Festival takes place from July 1 to 17.
This years highlights include compelling North East folk stars The Unthanks, showcasing unique new work with The Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band and the mesmerising creative alliance of Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble.
Adding the funk is hip hop influenced New Orleans-based Soul Rebels Brass Band, while Winter North Atlantic bring their folktronica soundworld to Durham Town Hall. Outstanding performances of classical brass by the award-winning Stavanger, Eminence Brass and Fairey (Geneva Band) can also be heard throughout the festival.
Igniting a carnival of street theatre are Xarxa Teatre from Spain and Pan.Optikum from Germany, with large-scale productions set to bring alive the streets of Spennymoor, Chester-le-Street and Durham City.
Streets of BRASS bursts onto the city with its exuberant and energetic international sounds on July 15, 16 and 17.
For mor information, ring the Box Office on 0191 332 4041.
One of the most popular diary dates in the citys calendar is the Durham Miners Gala, which still draws thousands of people every year.
This - the 127th Big Meeting- will see Labour leader Ed Milliband in attendance, the first party leader to visit the Gala since Neil Kinnock addressed the event in 1989.
Traditionally held on the second Saturday in July, the gala developed out of the miners; trade unionism. At its peak it attracted crowds of more than 300,000 and even though there are no working deep mines left in the county, the event is still going strong.
Crowds pack the city streets to watch the colourful spectacle of marching bands and join former miners from the old colliery villages as they proudly march to the racecourse with their banners held high to listen to the speeches by senior politicians and union leaders.
In the afternoon, the emphasis moves to Durham Cathedral for a special service.
The Streets of Summer Festival returns bigger, brighter and bolder than ever before over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
For 24 hours the festival transforms Durhams streets and fills interesting and intimate venues with some of the most exciting talent from all over the world.
Performers will once again take over the citys streets to entertain, surprise and amuse.
From pushchair to pensioner, the festival offers something for everyone: from the best in contemporary folk and world music to the dare-devil skills of top international street performers.
The Carillion Stage in the Market Place will play host to a spectacular line-up of award-winning street performers, including clowns, acrobats, jugglers and comical contortionists, and the return of the 2010 Peoples Choice winners The Black Eagles.
Following on from the phenomenal Peatbog Faeries who headlined in 2010, the Walkergate Music Stage in Millennium Place will see an eclectic mix of contemporary and breakthrough acts all performing for free. The headline act will be announced in late June with the full programme announced in early July. Keep up to date by logging on to www.durhamstreetsof.co.uk.
Why I love Durham
Durham's a great place to mark a special occasion according to friends Francine Cram and Steve Lawson.
North East Life caught up with the pair on a sunny Saturday afternoon, when they were visiting the city as part of a contingent of 20 friends, to celebrate three birthdays.
Francine and Steve, both of Murton Village, are regular visitors to the city, and love to soak up the lively atmosphere together with its cultural appeal.
'Whenever one of our friends is having a birthday, engagement or any other special event such as wetting the baby's head, we come to Durham to celebrate,' said Steve.
The pair, along with many of their friends, also love to attend the Durham Miners' Gala every year, with this year being no exception.
Isobel Johnson, of Sunderland, enjoys a day out in Durham with her husband, usually about once every month. The couple use the park and ride service, which they find convenient thus avoiding the hassle of traffic congestion and having to search for a parking space.
Isobel likes to browse the shops and to pop in for a coffee at one of the city's many eateries. Then, before setting off for home, the couple end their visit, relaxing over a cocktail.
Pensioners Ralph and Elsie Walton have been coming to Durham city for years. The couple, both in their eighties, used to visit every Saturday, from their home in Herrington, Sunderland.
Mrs Walton is originally from Coxhoe, and the couple's son lives at Belmont, so both have strong ties with the city.
'We use the park and ride service, which is fantastic,' said Mrs Walton.
While both recognise the many merits of the city and services it has to offer, they also found some things to criticise such as a lack of litter bins in the Market Place.