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Durham Castle and grounds

County Durham has today launched its bid to be named UK City of Culture 2025 and we’re very proud to be a principal partner in this exciting initiative.

As a university community, we take great pride in working with our partners in the city and across the county to drive innovation and share knowledge to help our regional communities thrive.

The bid aims to secure the title for Durham, meaning communities across the city and county would benefit from the national spotlight being turned on our region’s vast and varied landscape, heritage and culture.

City of Culture status would provide a major boost for the whole of North East England, with significant potential to increase visitor numbers and investment, and to create new economic and employment opportunities.

Gateway to the world

Durham University has been part of the heritage of Durham since 1832 and we provide a gateway to the world for the people of our county, through our global network of cultural and educational institutions and our world-class collections, museums and libraries.

Our Oriental Museum is the only museum in the north of the UK devoted solely to the art and archaeology of the great cultures of North Africa and Asia.

Durham Castle is not only home to hundreds of our students, but it also boasts some of the best-preserved Norman architecture in the country and houses over 5,000 objects ranging from 17th-century tapestries to 20th-century social history collections.

Located on the UNESCO World Heritage Site next to Durham Castle, Bishop John Cosin’s Library, dating back to 1669, is one of the earliest public libraries in the north of England and recognised for its national significance.

Examples of our cultural collaborations include the Zurbaran Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art with the Prado in Madrid, plus the close partnership between our Oriental Museum and the Palace Museum in Beijing and the National Museum of Japanese History.

Regional contribution

Our student community, active in hundreds of sport, theatre, music and art societies as well in an extensive student volunteer programme, will be a powerful engine for the City of Culture.

Combined with the boundary-breaking research of our academic staff, which improves the lives across the world, we are excited to continue making a significant and worthwhile contribution to society, both on our doorstep and beyond.

As an example, our research is being used to transform coal mines into multi-million pound renewable energy systems, via our Durham Energy Institute, with the potential to make a significant difference to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This could act as a springboard to inspire community innovation on climate change within our region.

Exciting events

County Durham already boasts a growing calendar of events, many of which we play an active part in, including Lumiere, Kynren, Durham Book Festival and Durham BRASS.

This offer will be boosted over the coming years, including a programme of events around the display of the Lindisfarne Gospels, the relaunch of the home of the Durham Miners’ Association, Redhills, and the opening of a new dedicated history centre for the county.

The initial bid is being submitted by Durham County Council on behalf of Culture Durham, a partnership of organisations, including Beamish Museum, Durham Cathedral, Durham University and Locomotion.

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