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Durham Cathedral opens its doors for visitors to explore at dusk

19 May 2022

On Monday 23 May, from 6.30-9pm visitors can explore the cathedral and its changing atmosphere as night falls. Throughout the evening visitors will be invited to add an LED candle to a growing artwork on the floor of the cathedral, which will create a giant St Cuthbert’s Cross shape.

The Chapter House, a famous Harry Potter filming location, will also be open for visitors to discover free of charge. There will also be additional unique experiences which require advance booking, such as exploring secret spaces like the Song School, visiting the museum for half price entry, and climbing the cathedral’s tower.

Canon Charlie Allen from Durham Cathedral, said, “As County Durham’s shortlisted City of Culture bid puts beloved places around our region into the spotlight, we are encouraging people to take this opportunity to explore the cathedral in a new way at this unique event and discover some of our lesser known spaces.”

Visitors can book an evening climb up the 325 steps up the tower to see Durham from above, or get tickets for a tour of the Song School with the Master of the Choristers. This historic behind-the-scenes space has been used for daily choir practices for centuries, and is almost never open to the public.

Especially for the evening, Durham Cathedral Museum is hosting a special display of historic printed books so large they are known as elephant folios. These fascinating books, some of the largest in the Cathedral Library, will be on show for visitors to get up close and see how they were made. Journeying through the museum, visitors can explore the dormitory where the cathedral’s medieval community of monks slept, and view a special exhibition on Durham’s royal visitors for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Canon Charlie continues, “We’re offering lots of different and unique experiences inside the cathedral for this special evening opening. People are also welcome to arrive a little early and experience the sublime singing of the Cathedral’s Choir at our evening service, which starts at 5.30pm. This peaceful half hour has lots to offer, whether you come to express your faith, be mindful in the moment, absorb the atmosphere of this ancient place, or simply to enjoy the music.”

Cathedrals At Night is an initiative taking place at cathedrals across England to encourage visitors to see the UK’s historic, sacred spaces in a new light. The project, postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been coordinated by the Association of English Cathedrals.

Durham’s Cathedrals At Night event takes place on Monday 23 May from 6.30-9pm. For more information and to book tickets for additional experiences, visit https://bit.ly/3kTUChZ.

Image: Graeme Peacock