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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 shares some opportunities to get involved with Durham's University during October.

Part of our purpose as university is to share our learning, expertise and facilities with others, so that we all benefit from what we do here, across academic research, education and extra-curricular activities such as sport, theatre, music, volunteering and enterprise.

Opportunities during October half-term

Coming up in the October half-term holiday, we’ve two fantastic events if you’re a parent, grandparent or carer looking for something fun and free for the children.

Firstly, our wonderful science festival Celebrate Science returns. From Tuesday 25 October to Thursday 27 October, there will be three fun-packed and fascinating days of free activities, workshops, experiments and talks celebrating science. Join us in a marquee on Palace Green, Durham, between 10am and 4pm.

Then on Saturday 29 October we’re hosting our second Community Fun Day. This is a chance to sample some of the community-focused opportunities and activities we have on offer at Durham’s University. Our first Community Fun Day, held in 2019, attracted over 1,000 people and was a fantastic success. We’d love to see you at this one – again, in the marquee on Palace Green. This time between 10am and 3pm. Entry is free.

Other activities and events

These are two great examples of how the University partners with and supports our city, county and region. Another is Durham Book Festival, which returns this week (October 13-16). We’re a long-term supporter of the Festival and this year we’re sponsoring the Festival Laureate, as well as hosting and contributing to events. I’m personally looking forward to introducing broadcaster and Durham graduate Jeremy Vine, as he talks about his love for poet WH Auden. 

October is also Black History Month and we’re hosting events and talks that are open to local residents, as well as staff and students. At Ustinov College, for example, there’s an exhibition exploring the experiences of black miners in the UK; and on Saturday 24 October we’re staging a concert at Durham Cathedral by the Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of Ruth First, a former Durham lecturer, who was assassinated in Mozambique having campaigned against apartheid in South Africa.

Elsewhere, while the weather is still reasonably kind, why not visit our Botanic Garden? It’s just won a Gold Medal in the Northumbria in Bloom Awards and the autumn colours are wonderful right now. Or if you’d prefer to stay indoors, there are two new exhibitions at the Oriental Museum: one exploring ancient Egypt and the other focusing on the work of women artists and crafters in central Asia.

For more details on any of these opportunities, please sign up for our monthly Community Newsletter, via

Related links

- Find out more about Celebrate Science
- Get your ticket for the Ruth First memorial concert
- Join our Community Fun Day
- Check out the programme for Durham Book Festival
- Visit the Botanic Garden