10 things to do in County Durham

This summer a small market town in County Durham stages the biggest and most spectacular open-air live-action night show since the opening of the London 2012 Olympics. Organisers hope it will attract many new visitors to the area. love it!’s GRAEME ALDERSON was born and bred there and says there are a lot more reasons to visit the county…

1. KYNREN More than 1,000 performers on a seven-acre stage tell the story of 2,000 years of British history. It’s a £30million feast for the eyes and ears featuring mass choreography, stunning pyrotechnics and spectacular lighting and water effects.

2. BEAMISH MUSEUM A must-see open-air museum that recreates Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian life with costumed staff, plus trams and buses and a coal mining experience. A truly unforgettable day out.

3. NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM, SHILDON Built along a 1km line with plenty of resident and visiting engines, along with a potted history of rail transport, that manages to grab the interest of more than just the hardcore railway buffs.

4. BARNARD CASTLE Delightful old cobbled streets and twisting lanes, lined with stylish Georgian and Victorian architecture, ‘Barney’ is one of the best places in the north of England for antique shops. There’s also plenty of quaint shops and cafes.

5. DURHAM CATHEDRAL One of the great buildings of Europe and a World Heritage Site, the cathedral is set on a rocky promontory next to the castle with the medieval city below and the river sweeping round. Over 700,000 visitors explore this amazing building each year, with few disappointed.

6. DURHAM CITY The quintessential old English university city has a wonderful, timeless quality with relaxing riverside walks and river cruises, yet buzzes with a vibrant contemporary culture with superb cafés, artisan workshops, boutiques, galleries and museums.

7. WEARDALE Large parts of Weardale fall within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the second largest in England and Wales. Perfect for touring, walking, wildlife and any other outdoor activities you fancy. Wrap up warm in the winter, though, as it can get seriously chilly!

8. RABY CASTLE Set in the heart of the Durham Dales, Raby is one of the best-preserved castles in the North East. offering the visitor 600 years of history inside and 200 acres of deer park outside.

9. BOWES MUSEUM The Bowes in Barnard Castle has a nationally-renowned art collection, including paintings by El Greco, Goya, Canaletto, Fragonard and Boucher. There is also a rather sizeable collection of decorative art, ceramics, textiles, tapestries, clocks and costumes, as well as older items from local history.

10. JOINERS ARMS In an area well-served by great traditional value-formoney pubs, the Joiner’s Arms in Hunwick stands out for its well-kept cellar, interesting menu and warm welcome. Booking essential.