Circus acts, face painting, crafts and festival activities will be taking place across the streets of County Durham this month.

Durham County Council is running a series of free festival-style events across the county’s main towns throughout March, as part of a bid to get people visiting and enjoying their high streets.

Each weekend of the month will see fun activities descend upon a different town centre, where people can enjoy a variety of entertainment including circus performances and workshops, walkabout acts, craft workshops and face painting.

In some areas there will also be an outdoor performance ring, a stage and seating, grass street furniture, pop-up marquees, a climbing wall and crazy golf.

The events support the county’s current bid for UK City of Culture 2025. If successful, the bid will mean more opportunities to bring exciting events to towns and communities across the county.

Street Festival in County Durham
Shildon Street Festival. Photo by: Silverbird Photography Emily Carey

The street festival kicked off with events in Seaham and Shildon last weekend, with the next to take place on:

  • Saturday 12 March, 11am to 3pm – Crook Market Place
  • Sunday 13 March, 11am to 3pm – Ferryhill Market Place
  • Wednesday 16 March, 4pm to 8pm – Durham Market Place
  • Saturday 19 March, 11am to 3pm – Stanley Front Street
  • Sunday 20 March, 11am to 3pm – Middle Street, Consett
  • Friday 25 March, 4.30pm to 8.30pm – Bishop Auckland Market Place
  • Saturday 26 March, 11am to 3pm – Chester-le-Street Market Place
  • Sunday 27 March, 11am to 3pm – Scar Top, Barnard Castle

The events have been organised with Welcome Back Fund (WBF) money from the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities, which invited councils to apply to support the safe return of people to high streets following the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The WBF builds on the Re-opening High Streets Safely Fund, which was allocated to councils in 2020 to put in place additional measures to create and promote a safe environment for local trade and tourism, particularly in high streets as their economies reopen.

As a requirement of the funding, the street festival entertainment must take place before 31 March.

Shildon Street Festival. Photo by: Silverbird Photography Emily Carey 

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are really excited to be bringing a host of fun activities to communities across the county. With events taking place at different towns each week, we are inviting everyone to come along to their nearest high street and enjoy the activities and entertainment.

“Through schemes such as the street festivals, we are aiming to attract more visitors to our high streets, boost footfall and make our towns vibrant places to visit. The event also supports the county’s current bid for UK City of Culture 2025, which if successful will allow us to bring more cultural events and opportunities like this to our town centres.”

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