Things to do in Durham

things to do in durham

Looking for things to do in Durham today, this week or during the holidays?  Great news, you are in the right place as we have all of the best attractions and events to keep you and your family entertained.

The guide is broken down into easy to use sections which provide useful information and links to pages with more details or direct to attractions and event websites for easy booking.

So sit back, grab your favourite drink and lets find some fun things to do in Durham.

Things to do in Durham


durham shopping indoor market

From Durham City to the Durham Dales, the Vale of Durham to the Durham Coast, soak up the atmosphere of this surprising county as you enjoy a little retail therapy.
Stroll through the historic streets of Durham City, and enjoy all your high street favourites as well as quirky craft shops, independent shops and boutiques, all within view of Durham Castle and Cathedral.

If you are looking for a bargain then head out to Dalton Park which is the biggest outlet shopping centre in the North East of England.

Looking for more?  Visit Durham’s beautiful market towns in the Vale of Durham, which include Chester-le-Street and Bishop Auckland, the towns of Barnard Castle and Stanhope nestled in the Durham Dales or Seaham on the Durham Coast, all of which offer something unique with their own charm and beauty.  You will find farm shops, farmers markets, shops selling crafts, delicacies, antiques and locally made arts so you are bound to find what you are looking for.

What to do in Durham tonight

what to do in durham tonight


Loveshack is a fun and funky nightclub situated in the Walkergate Complex. They have a live DJ, dancers and breakdancers and also live PAs on a regular basis.  So if you are looking for something to do tonight, look no further, you have just found it.

Address: Unit 3, Walkergate, Durham City, County Durham, DH1 1WA
Contact: 0191 384 5757
Opening Times:

2017 (1 Jan 2016 – 31 Dec 2017)

Days out in Durham

Durham Cathedral

Discover 2,000 years of history and explore previously hidden areas on a journey through Durham Cathedral’s new world-class exhibition spaces.

durham cathedral

Durham Cathedral’s new world class exhibition spaces opened last year so be one of the first to explore the Open Treasure exhibition.  As you make your way along the cobbled streets to this magnificent building you will get the chance to admire the view from palace green before finally making your way indoors to discover 2,000 years of the Prince Bishops history.

durham cathedral exhibitsMake time for a guided tour of this imposing building or if you are a little peckish, you can always have a bite to eat in the Undercroft Restaurant.  Now you are ready to enjoy the exhibition route/tour which starts at the Monks’ Dormitory and finishes in the 14th Century Great Kitchen, which is one of just two surviving monastic kitchens in the UK, the other being the Abbot’s Kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey (in case you want to complete the set!).  These newly opened hidden work and living spaces represent some of the best preserved medieval monastic buildings in England and home to the magnificent monastic library which is the best preserved in all of the British Isles (take that Glastonbury Abbey!).

Come and discover the treasures in the Cathedral’s internationally renowned collection, which includes exquisite metalwork, stunning medieval manuscripts and rare Anglo-Saxon artefacts, all of which are complemented by a thrilling rolling exhibition programme, so every time you visit it will be fresh and rewarding.

If you are looking for a truly unique heritage break, you could always stay at Durham Castle, part of the Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site which provides a great base to explore the city and beautiful vale of Durham.

River Tour

Rowing_in_DurhamHire a rowboat on the sparkling River Wear and enjoy the stillness of the river with nothing to disturb you but the sound of your oars slipping into the water and propelling you serenely forward, or jump aboard the Prince Bishops River Cruiser and enjoy a uided tour, gazing up at Durham City’s spectacular World Heritage Site which sits above the river as it winds it way through the city.

durham river toursAdmire the wonderful views of the Castle and Cathedral above you and spot wildlife along the way as you take a leisurely row along the river. And if you’d rather kick back and let someone else do the sailing then hop aboard the Prince Bishops River Cruiser and enjoy an unforgettable experience.

Plus, every summer, the Durham Regatta takes place on the river, dating back to 1834 it is the premier rowing regatta in the North of England.

Address: Brown’s Boathouse, Elvet Bridge, Durham City, County Durham, DH1 3AF
Contact: 0191 386 9525;
Prices:  For sailing times and prices for the Prince Bishop River Cruiser please ring our 24 hour sailing information service on 0191 386 9525.
Opening Times:

2017 (1 Apr 2017 – 31 Oct 2017)

* For sailing times for the Prince Bishop River Cruiser and Santa Specials please ring our 24 hour sailing information service on 0191 386 9525.

Road Directions: Nearest major road is A1(M).
Public Transport Directions: Nearest station is Durham Station.

Whats on in Durham this week

The Gala Theatre

The Gala Theatre which is the centrepiece of Durham’s arts programme is situated in a beautiful £15m purpose built building on the banks of the river Wear in the centre of historic Durham city. Inside, you will find an impressive modern theatre with two screens, a spacious café and bar and superb state of the art conference facilities.

Address: Millennium Place, Durham City, County Durham, DH1 1WA
Contact: 0300 026 6600;
Opening Times

2017 (2 Jan 2017 – 31 Dec 2017)
Monday – Saturday 10:00  – 20:30
Sunday 14:30  – 20:30
Bank Holiday 14:30  – 20:30

Battle of the Brass Bands

Brass is given a modern twist with art installations in the streets and a dose of contemporary hip hop, at BRASS Durham International Festival.

Battle of the Brass Bands

This international event is the festival equivalent of giving brass music a good rub-down and really bringing out its sheen. Local artists are commissioned to create street installations with a ‘brass’ theme, allowing audiences to focus with fresh eyes on this music tradition that’s so important in Durham.

The ears are also catered for by the likes of the Always Drinking Marching Band, who include surreal musical gags and a brass reworking of rock ’n’ roll amongst their repertoire – along with the Hackney Colliery Band, known for its mix of contemporary hip hop and Balkan beats. The highlight for many is the Durham Miners’ Gala, a parade through the streets of brass bands and banners, in celebration of the city’s coal mining heritage.

This year, the BRASS event takes place between 14 to 17 July.

durham brass band

The week long festival will be showcasing Venice, Broadway and Northern Soul with the BBC Big Band honouring Dizzy Gillespie, the jazz trumpet legend.

To get you into the spirit of Brass, international street bands are being sent all over County Durham to perform in public spaces, schools and parks, so prepare to be entertained, laugh and sing along with them.

One of BRASS’ main aims is to inspire the next generation of brass players and they do this by putting instruments directly into their hands and transform them into players on the Big BRASS Bus.  Last year they reached over 16,000 and this year they hope to inspire even more.

Address: Durham City and surrounding towns
Prices: Free
Opening times: 14th to 17th July 2017.

Durham County Cricket Club

durham county cricket club

Emirates Riverside is a world class sporting and events venue which regularly attracts visitors from all over the world.On top of our international calendar DCCC also have a full programme of ‘must see’ domestic cricket.

Address: Emirates Riverside, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, DH3 3QR
Contact: 0191 387 1717;
Prices: Please see website for specific match prices
Opening Times:

2017 (1 Jan 2017 – 31 Dec 2017)
Monday – Friday 09:00  – 17:00

* During the season, the club is open Monday – Friday 9.00-17.00 but please note that opening times on match days will vary according to the fixture schedule so please see website for details.

Road Directions: Nearest major road is A1(M). Take the A1(M), leaving at jct 63 and follow the signs for Riverside.
Public Transport Directions: The nearest train station is not far away in Chester-le-Street. The Riverside ground is signposted from Chester-le-Street station which is within walking distance to the ground.

Sedgefield Racecourse

Hosting 19 jump race meetings, spanning 11 months of the year, Sedgefield Racecourse is one of Britain’s most popular racecourses. Whether it’s a day out, a table in Hoops Bistro or a private hospitality box we are confident that your day at Sedgefield Racecourse will be full of value and one to remember.As well as racing there are superb conference, banqueting, Christmas party, wedding and outdoor facilities. For more information please call 01740 621925 or visit for a full listing.

Sedgefield Racecourse

Address: Sedgefield Racecourse, Sedgefield, County Durham, TS21 2HW
Contact: 01740 621925;
Prices: adults £14, children (16 and under) free with adult
Opening times: Please see website for race day specific opening and closing times.

Road Directions: Sedgefield is conveniently placed 5 minutes from jct 60 off the A1(M) and is clearly signposted from there. The Racecourse lies just outside the village of Sedgefield and is only 20 minutes from Teesside and Darlington.
Public Transport Directions:  By Rail: Sedgefield sits equally between Darlington and Durham and both mainline train stations are approximately 20 minutes away by taxi or car.
By Air: Teesside Airport is close by in Teeside and helicopter landing facilities can be made available at the race course with prior permission, please call for more details.

Kids activities in Durham

Beamish Wild Adventure Park

Suitable for ages: Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12) and Teenagers (13-18)

Venue type: Outdoor

beamish wild adventure park

A great family adventure awaits you at Beamish Wild.  Climb trees, have a go at archery, build dens or find out how good you are at orienteering in the magical woodland.  With 20+ activities to enjoy with your friends and family, you will definitely have a fantastic day out.

Kids activities in DurhamIf you are 10+ years old and looking for a high flying adventure, the High Ropes Course will take you on a thrilling 2 hour journey through the tree tops. Enjoy the rope bridges, any of the 4 zip wires and swinging tires, then take a leap of faith off the 45 foot high Powerfan free fall simulator.

After a full day of fun you can refuel in the Stables Pub and Restaurant. A warm welcome and a fabulous courtyard for summer dining along with 8 Real Ales brewed onsite will provide the perfect setting for all your friends and family. So, whether it’s yours or your kid’s birthday, a special occasion or you just want to have a great day out with your friends, Beamish Wild look forward to seeing you soon!

Address: Beamish Hall, Stanley, County Durham, DH9 0YB, England
Contact: 01207 233 733;
Prices: Adults (16+): £27.00, Kids (10 – 15): £22.00, Students: £22.00
Opening hours: Opening hours are subject to change. Please call the attraction directly to avoid disappointment.

If you are going further afield, perhaps down to Yorkshire, take a look at our things to do in York guide, or our Chesterfield and Leicester guides, where you will find new and exciting kids activities which are not too far away, just a short train journey of 30 minutes.

Beamish Open Air Museum

Suitable for ages: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8) and Older Children (9-12)

Beamish Open Air Museum

Set in more than 300 acres of amazing countryside, Beamish which is Britain’s favourite open air museum recreates life in the North of England as it was 200 years ago.

Proud to have won both the European Museum of the Year and British Museum of the Year awards, Beamish recreates the living history of the North East and provides both education and entertainment  for everyone, no matter what age.

Beamish Open Air Museum mine tourCharacter actors from the not so distant past will welcome you and show you life in the North of England and how we used to live and work.  Watch sweets being made, take a trip down the mine, have a ride on Puffing Billy or at least a replica, which is one of the oldest surviving steam locos in the world, at Pockerley Waggonway or visit the Masonic Hall which has been painstakingly and authentically recreated!
Plus, step on board the trams and we’ll transport you into the past, for a happy day out in history!

Address: Beamish, County Durham, DH9 0RG, England
Contact: 0191 370 4000;
Prices: 1 Year Unlimited Ticket, Adult: £18.50, Concession: £13.50, 5 to 16 years: £10.50, Under 5s: Free, Family: from £34.50
Opening hours:

March through 2nd November

Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 17:00

November through March

Tuesday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 – 16:00

The BBC wrote a guide on free things to do in Durham Dales which you might find helpful, they also have the latest news as to what is happening in the city and surrounding area, so be sure to check this out if you get a chance.

More Information

If you are still unsure of what to do in Durham, why not take a look at more of the attractions and events on our other Durham pages: