County Durham awaits City of Culture decision

Durham Cathedral lit up on Monday 11th April during Ukraine vigil
The County Durham bid includes aspects from right around the county as well as the historic city of Durham. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

County Durham will find out this evening if it is to be UK City of Culture 2021, making it the first county to be given the title.

Durham is in a shortlist of four places being considered for the title. Bradford, Wrexham and Southampton are also hoping for success.

It's estimated that winning the title will create thousands of jobs and boost the economy by millions of pounds. Durham County Council believes it would empower residents and improve community wellbeing.

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council, said: "Our success at making it this far is of course testament to our county's incredible heritage, landscapes and vibrant cultural offer.

"However, I think it is our ambition, and our tradition of coming together to achieve something incredible, that really set us apart.

County Durham's bid centres around a year long programme of arts, culture, sport, science and economics. It promises to include:

  • Spectacular opening and closing events.

  • A bigger than ever Lumiere light festival.

  • An international celebration of the bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway with events at Locomotion in Shildon and other locations across the region

  • Lightyear, a 12-month space programme, to celebrate the region's 1,300-year history of astronomy and space science.

  • A series of broadcast and digital programmes to bring the county and its stories into front rooms and festivals across the whole of the UK.

It's predicted that being City of Culture would attract more than 15 million visitors to the region, spending £700 million and supporting the creation a further 1,800 jobs in the tourism sector. 

In bidding as a county, it is hoped the impact will be felt around the entire 1000 square miles of County Durham from the North Pennines to the North Sea.

Tony Harrington, chair of Culture Durham, said: "County Durham is no ordinary county and there is a strong feeling across the region that the time is right for the UK's City of Culture to be in the North East. It truly is our time to shine.