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Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, stood smiling with arms folded, in front of bookshelves

Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O'Brien explores some of the cultural opportunities on offer from the University over the coming weeks.

The days are getting longer, the weather is (generally) getting better, and for us here at Durham University, that means: exam season. Our main exam period is now well under way, running until Friday 3 June.

After that, our calendar allows for a three-week period before graduation, during which many of our students have more free time. Many choose to step up their volunteering, supporting good causes locally. Others will focus on their sport, theatre, music or other interests; and it will be a time of celebrating completing their studies – with clear guidance from the University on doing so responsibly and considerately.

Pride, Jubilee, Regatta...

During this period, there are so many opportunities for you, our neighbours, to enjoy what the University offers. We are strong supporters of Durham Pride (Sunday 29th May), when my colleague Shaid Mahmood, our Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), will be speaking and joining the parade, and would invite you to join us down at The Sands.

There are various student concerts and events to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (around June 2nd to 5th), the wonderful spectacle of Durham Regatta returns (June 11th and 12th) and our annual arts festival Summer in the City runs throughout June and July. This will include music from jazz to choral song; art exhibitions and events; and theatre performances and workshops: all in venues across the city.

And finally, at the end of June: Congregation, when thousands of our students will graduate in the stunning setting of Durham Cathedral. This year’s Congregation is extended, to accommodate students whose graduation was delayed due to Covid-19. I may have only arrived in Durham in January, but I have already seen what a buzz Congregation brings to the city, and what a boost it brings to local businesses.

Backing Durham for UK City of Culture 2025

All of this is part of what Durham University contributes to the rich and diverse cultural life of our city, county and region – and further evidence, if it were needed, that County Durham would make an excellent UK City of Culture 2025.

We were delighted to welcome the competition judges to the University during their visit to Durham earlier this month. I was particularly excited to meet Sir Phil Redmond, the chair of the judges, having been hooked on his TV creation Brookside for many years. If you missed the BBC One Show feature on Durham’s bid, I would recommend catching up via BBC iPlayer – the episode from Wednesday 18 May, from about 18 minutes in. We are now hoping for a positive result when the winner is announced shortly.

Please continue to back the bid, at and on social media: your support really counts.  

Find out more
Durham Pride 2022
Durham Regatta
Explore Congregation at Durham University
Back Durham's bid to be UK City of Culture 2025
Watch BBC One's The One Show feature on Durham's UK City of Culture 2025 bid (starts at 18 minutes)