Head to Durham

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Head to Durham The Stunning Raby Castle © Raby Estates/David Grey

Discover award-winning attractions and great group-friendly options.

Special Report by Matthew Inglis

Are you looking to plan your next trip to the North East of England? If so, look at Durham, which offers good road networks and easy access. If you think you know Durham, think again.

Sit back as we explore everything this much-to-offer county has, making it the perfect pick for visiting coach groups. From city to countryside and countryside to coast, the county of Durham is the ideal destination for group travel, with endless options to explore. Why not begin your visit with a trip to Durham City? Its famous historic centre boasts some magnificent buildings that are part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the city is well known for its university.

Add some great shopping options, welcoming bars and restaurants, comfortable accommodation providers, and many award-winning attractions; what’s not to like? One of the best ways to get the most out of a group visit is for you to work with one of several experienced tour guides that bring the county to life for visitors, from history and heritage to food and drink, ghostly tales, and Durham’s dark past, tour guides are highly recommended and can add that extra personal touch to your itinerary, the area has a number of themed tours and blue badge guides to choose from.

If you want more outdoor experiences, explore the popular walking trails of the Durham Dales and North Pennines National Landscape, Northern Saints Trails, and the breathtaking High Force Waterfall. Elsewhere in the county, you could visit the Vale of Durham, or why not take in the sea air with a trip to the Durham Heritage coast? All of this is available, and much more. If your group is looking for a slower pace, head to the Durham Dales and make the most of some of England’s finest scenery. The Dales are popular with hikers, and it’s a great place to relax and take in the wide-spanning tranquil landscape of hills and moors, with meandering rivers and streams separated by some charming towns and villages.

The Discover Durham team has some fantastic itinerary ideas available and new ones for 2024, including Dales Discoveries and Durham Keeps the Faith; for more information, see the website below.

Web: www.discoverdurham.com

Email: tradeinfo@discoverdurham.co.uk

Tel: 03000 26 26 26


Durham is set to deliver even more incredible experiences for groups, with several
exciting developments and new openings taking place across the county in 2024, we bring you a round-up below:-

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Remaking Beamish is the biggest development in the history of Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, with over 25 new exhibits and attractions, bringing a new era to the museum.

© Beamish Museum

In 2024, the incredible developments continue, with additions to the 1950s Town set to include
a toy shop, electrical store and the much-anticipated cinema. Visitors will also be able to stay overnight for the first time in Georgian-themed accommodation, with a tavern and pottery also due to open this year.

New Hall at Locomotion

Locomotion is investing in new experiences, buildings and interpretations to enhance the story of Shildon and its contribution to the development of railways worldwide. In May 2024, the opening of New Hall will create Europe’s largest undercover display of historic rail vehicles.
Locomotion celebrates its 20th anniversary in September this year. It will also play a key role in plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025.

The Auckland Project

The Auckland Project offers a unique collection of heritage attractions, galleries and gardens centred around the magnificent Auckland Castle, once home to the powerful Prince Bishops of Durham. Other attractions include the Spanish Gallery, Mining Art Gallery, Weardale Railway, the recently opened Faith Museum and Auckland Gardens. Three new themed gardens will be opening this summer, allowing visitors to connect with nature in the Wilderness Garden, pause and reflect in the Faith Garden, and explore the historic Walled Garden with its striking new glasshouse.

The Rising at Raby Castle

Ambitious renovations and developments are underway at Raby Castle to create a visitor destination unlike any other. The Rising will include a remodelled 5-acre walled garden, restored heritage buildings, stylish shopping and a new Vinery Café Restaurant showcasing local produce. The development name, The Rising, combines Raby’s rich history as the home of one of Britain’s most notorious plots, the Rising of the North, with a promise of growth, energy and ambition.

Return of the Vikings!

Get set for the return of the Vikings this summer. Groups can step back in time and explore the Viking Village as its inhabitants prepare for a raid.

The Viking village attraction at Kynren gives an insight into Viking life © 11 Arches

The recreation of a 9th-century village is complete with a cookhouse, cottages, and a working blacksmith’s forge as part of the pre-show
entertainment at Kynren, the spectacular live outdoor theatre production. Shows take place every Saturday night from 27 July to 14 September 2024.

The Story

Opening in June 2024, the Grade II-listed Mount Oswald Manor House is being transformed into The Story to create a world-class attraction home to some of the county’s most important heritage collections and a place for life-changing events. Visitors can explore the rich history of the county and its people through permanent and temporary exhibitions alongside an exciting activity programme.


The Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum is located in the charming town of Barnard Castle. Opened in 1892, this incredible building boasts an exciting programme of events and exhibitions. It’s home to a stunning museum collection that showcases art, fashion, and design, all set within a French-style museum that is also home to some beautiful parklands and gardens–a great place to
relax on a warm summer’s day. Cafe Bowes is also on hand to offer a delicious range of
drinks and snacks for that vital refuel before your onward journey continues!

Durham Cathedral and Castle – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

No visit to Durham City is complete without giving your groups the chance to visit the magnificent Durham Cathedral and the equally striking Durham Castle. Both sites are steeped in history and are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Groups visiting Durham Cathedral can marvel at the impressive architecture and skill that went into creating one of the UK’s most majestic cathedrals. The treasures of the cathedral’s past are best explored by pre-booking one
of several guided tours, giving your group the time to learn more and ask questions as you walk around. Self-guided tours can also be offered. While on your history trail in the city, allow time to visit the wonderful Norman Castle. University College, part of Durham University, has occupied it since 1837 after its previous role as the residence of the Bishops of Durham. Guided tours and special events take place year-round.

Durham University attractions

In addition to Durham Castle, Durham University manages several attractions that are great for group visits. In addition to Durham Castle. The Botanic Garden is a 10-hectare botanical garden set amongst mature woodlands on the southern outskirts of Durham City.

The Botanic Garden © Durham University

The garden plays a crucial role in science and conservation and has incredible landscapes for guests to discoverand explore. Other university attractions in Durham include The Oriental Museum and, on the World Heritage Site, the Museum of Archaeology and Bishop Cosin’s historic library.

Crook Hall Gardens

Managed by the National Trust, Crook Hall Gardens are set on the edge of Durham City with the eyecatching backdrop of a majestic medieval hall. The attraction’s themed  gardens lead you down intriguing paths and through acres of interlinked gardens, each with its own character and style. If you want to refresh before or after visiting the gardens, the Garden Gate Café serves hot and cold drinks, lightbites and cakes.


Are you planning alonger stay? With so much on offer, surely so! The following options will help you to plan some tremendous group-friendly accommodation for your stay in the area

• Durham University accommodation
• Radisson Blu Hotel
• Ramside Hall Hotel
• Bowburn Hall Hall
• Delta Hotels by Marriott Durham Royal County
• Park Head Hotel
• Hardwick Hall Hotel

For more information on Durham’s group-friendly attractions and accommodation, visit:


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