Days Out In Durham

Posted on: 16 December 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Durham is hosting a series of recession-proof events and special-offers to capture the classic and traditional spirit of Christmas for visitors this December and January.

Major attractions across the county are organising festive events, from World Heritage Site Durham Cathedral to The Bowes Museum, including festivals, markets, carol services, train rides, winter charity walks and treasure hunts.

Special Christmas Deals

County Durham Tourism Partnership has teamed up with leading attractions to provide great value special-offers, including two-for one-entry and children go free this Christmas.

Called ‘Durham Deals,’ the vouchers are downloadable from the official Durham tourism website,, and can be printed off and used on the same day at attractions including Beamish Wild – North East England’s only ropes activity course and Bird of Prey conservation centre – The Bowes Museum, Durham Castle, and Tanfield Railway – the world’s oldest existing rail service.

Campaign To Recession-Proof Christmas

The deals are part of a campaign launched by the partnership to stop the recession killing the joy of Christmas.

The campaign to recession-proof Christmas aims to encourage people not to give up on the idea of enjoying Christmas in the tough economic climate.

The internet campaign hopes to build support for the idea that Christmas is recession-proof and that it’s possible to have a great festive period by spending time with friends and family enjoying events and experiences.

Christmas Events

Carol Services in “The Best Cathedral on Planet Earth”

Description: Where better to enjoy a Christmas carol service than the place travel writer Bill Bryson called, “The Best Cathedral on Planet Earth.”

The Cathedral holds a series of Christmas carol concerts throughout December and January, in aid of charity, and featuring choristers from Durham University and local Durham schools. Concerts start on Wednesday December 3 and run through until New Year’s Eve.

For more information, visit: or call The Chapter Office on 0191 386 4266

Aladdin at The Gala Theatre

Description: The Gala Theatre’s first-ever in-house production of a Christmas pantomime is a must-see. Featuring a superb live band and local Durham actor Donald McBride as Widow Twankey, the show is packed full of North East flavour and excellently designed sets. Written and directed by Simon Stallworthy. Opened December 2 and running through to January 3.

Tickets start at £5 for bargain shows with family tickets priced at £40 for a family of four., contact the Box Office on 0191 332 4041.

Santa’s Tractor Ride at Hall Hill Farm, Lanchester, Durham

Description: Santa has opted for a different mode of transport to help him deliver his presents this year. On three weekends leading up to Christmas, Santa will be down at Hall Hill Farm offering special Santa tractor rides.

Visitors can meet the animals in their winter stables, Bambi, Flower, Whisky, Rudolph the deer and Snowy the Donkey. Robbie and Romulus will also be giving donkey rides. Plus, carol singing in the barn, santa’s grotto and seasonal fayre in the farm shop.

For more: telephone 01388 731333 or visit:

Santa Specials on the Weardale Railway

Description: Weardale Railway is running its Santa Special heritage rail service through the picturesque Durham Dales countryside this Christmas. Families board the train at the charming Durham market town of Wolsingham and travel through the Dales to Stanhope, where Santa has set up his grotto in the town’s heritage train station.

For more information and full timetables, visit:

Barnard Castle Christmas Market, Teesdale

Description: Enjoy unique Christmas shopping in this picturesque Durham market town close to the renowned Bowes Museum and England's largest waterfall High Force. Barnard Castle Farmers Market offers an excellent array of local produce complemented by diverse craft stalls, seasonal entertainment and a Santa's grotto.

Bowes Museum Christmas Market – Barnard Castle

Description: The renowned North East museum of art is transforming its grounds into a winter wonderland for its annual Christmas Market. Traders from the Barnard Castle Farmers’ Markets will be selling locally produced food and drink, complemented by present stalls selling traditional sweets and fudge, jewellery, silk paintings, carvings, beauty products and Christmas puddings.

There will also be a Santa’s Grotto and workshops for children to make snow globes, run by the Museum’s education staff. For more:

Web Links

Visit Durham - Check the website to see all that is going on in Durham.

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