On Easter Monday Durham’s history will come alive like never before as the city celebrates its World Heritage Site status on International World Heritage Day with a free event for the whole family.
Exciting interactive activities will be taking place at Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle, Owengate and Palace Green Library as well as walking tours, live music and historical re-enactments around the World Heritage Site between 11am and 6pm.
Hear event organizer Kate Barton talking about the day on Durham OnAir:
The day will culminate with a free talk by Dan Jackson, author of ‘Northumbrians: North-East England and Its People’ in the early evening in the Assembly Rooms Theatre.
Alison Clark, Head of Culture Sport & Tourism, Durham County Council said:
“This one-day event will celebrate International World Heritage Day and see Durham’s history come alive like never before – celebrating its people and culture, with the people of Durham.
“This free family-friendly festival demonstrates the wealth of cultural activities and living history in the county and shows why County Durham is now one of just four locations from across the UK to be shortlisted for the prestigious title of UK City of Culture 2025.”
The open day will be an opportunity to see the hidden history of Durham's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since 2008 the Site boundaries have included Palace Green and the buildings surrounding it, as well as Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle.
Durham Cathedral which took 40 years to build and is one of the finest examples of Norman Architecture in Europe, will be hosting opportunities for children to meet Alwin the monk in the Chapter House, or get hands-on dressing up as a monk.
This year Durham Castle is celebrating its 950th year. The historic home of the Prince Bishops and now home to Durham University students will be opening its doors to visitors for self-guided tours, whilst a medieval re-enactment takes place on the grounds.
In Palace Green Library families can explore the Lindisfarne Gospels and make crafty creations to take away. Palace Green itself will host food trucks and community stalls and live music from local bands and musicians between 12pm and 6pm.
‘Living Lives’ will enable visitors to meet and talk to the significant historical personalities of the World Heritage Site. Attendees can chat with a 10th-century monk who carried St Cuthbert’s coffin to what was then Dun Holm, the milkmaid who led the way, a stonemason who built Durham Castle on the instruction of William the Conqueror, and hear how Durham inspired the work of 19th-century poet Sir Walter Scott.
Eight primary schools have been working with an artist to create a WHS treasure trail, including Cleves Cross, Shotton Hall, Ludworth, Ferryhill Station, Fishburn Primary, Wingate, Yohden, and Coxhoe primary schools. On the day event attendees will explore Durham on a map to find the letters created by the children celebrating Durham’s heritage.
Free blue-badge guided tours taking in the World Heritage Site and the city’s mining history will be available to book on the day. Talks on everything from bookbinding to medieval cooking will also run throughout the day in Owengate.
The World Heritage Day is a partnership between Durham University, Durham County Council, Visit County Durham, Durham Castle, Palace Green Library, Durham World Heritage Site Visitor Centre, and supported by Redhills: Durham Miners Hall, Durham BID, DurhamOnAir, and Durham Markets.
Bands will also be playing all day on the Durham OnAir Stage in front of Durham Cathedral!
Liz Waller, Director of University Library and Collections, University Librarian
“We are very excited to welcome visitors to experience this major event on Easter Monday. The World Heritage Site is always a fantastic place to visit, but World Heritage Day gives us an excuse to be more playful and explore the many different ancient spaces and treasures in a really fun way. The Durham World Heritage Site is for everyone, and with such a lively programme, the University and its partners aim to attract a huge variety of new visitors from the whole of the county and region.
"County Durham is on the shortlist of four to be the UK City of Culture in 2025 and would be the first-ever county to win. Durham University is a principal partner and the Durham World Heritage Site is an important part of our plans for 2025 – emphasising our global reach and partnerships. By linking our UNESCO World Heritage Site in the City with our UNSECO Geopark in the North Pennines, we aim to use these sites to welcome collaborators from across the globe, as well as invite our county’s communities to explore the biggest questions on Earth.”
To enable the event to take place Owengate will be closed to vehicles between 11.30am & 7pm on Monday 18 April.
More information: www.thisisdurham.com/world-heritage-day