Destination Inspiration: Durham

Discovering a new city is always fun and advantageous, whether overseas or here in the UK, and #TeamCoco are all for trying new destinations. So, when our UK travel writer, Rachel McAlley recently visited the city of Durham she was blown away by its history, architecture, events, shopping, and dining.

I was visiting Durham for Lumiere, the UK’s largest light festival, which includes large-scale projections, interactive light-art, impressive mind-blowing light instillations, and contemplative artworks. Lumiere takes place bi-annually around Durham’s streets in mid-November showcasing the talent of local, national and international artists.

Highlights of the installations and projections included the giant snow globe ‘I Love Durham’ in the heart of Market Place, the ‘Cloud’ at Prince Bishops, ‘Stones’ animation on the façade of Durham Cathedral, and ‘The Stars Come Out at Night’ at Walkergate. In total there were 37 light creations in the Lumiere Festival around the city of Durham, and I would have liked to see them all.



This feature for House of Coco Magazine isn’t solely about the gorgeous light festival that is Lumiere, it’s also about many other attractions that Durham offers visitors.

Starting with Durham Cathedral, one of the great buildings of Europe. Located on the rocky promontory next to the castle, with the medieval city below and the river winding around, the cathedral is a World Heritage Site that was built in 1093, with a staggering 325 steps to the top of cathedral tower, where unrivalled views of the city make the climb worth every second.

I would suggest a stroll to the Oriental Museum at Durham University, where there are over 20,000 Ancient Egyptian, modern Chinese, North African and South East Asian artifacts and collections available to view. The Oriental Museum originally opened in 1960 to support the teaching of oriental languages to students and to help with Oriental research for specific courses.

Durham Town Hall

Another must-visit would be to Durham Town Hall on a Saturday to find out about its 650 year history, through the brand new interpretation, interactive information points, short films and audio guides.

Crook Hall & Gardens

A little off the beaten track and over the river is the beautiful Crook Hall & Gardens, where you can spend time inside the medieval house, walk around the quaint gardens, enjoy afternoon tea, take part in workshops, or browse an art exhibition.


After all the walking you’ll be in need of food and drinks in the city. I fell in love with The Boat Club, located on the bank of River Wear with its own heated pods outside on the riverside, serving the latest dishes such as their famous hanging kebabs. Cosy Club is another venue that you won’t want to miss, located overlooking Durham Cathedral on The Riverwalk where they serve excellent tapas alongside sharers, sandwiches and more. Or perhaps Tango for their acclaimed burgers and loaded fries. Alternatively, maybe a visit to the brand new street food venue is on the menu with food being served at The Food Pit from the Durham Sausage Company, Bojangles Coffee, Manao Thai, Spread from the Med, Gourmet Burger, Fish & Chips, and Mr Waffle.

Radisson Blu

I stayed overnight at Radisson Blu, located on the River Wear on Frankland Lane, on a bed and breakfast basis.

With the city centre being just 5 minutes walk away from the Radisson Blu, the morning after the night before was spent browsing a number of local retailers and shops around Durham, but this is one reason that I need to come back, because with just an hour remaining before the I boarded the new LNER Azuma train from Durham to York, there weren’t enough hours in the day to browse the shops.

LNER Breakfast

Here’s to returning to Durham in the very near future!

For more information on the above visit This is Durham. Durham Lumiere Festival was an Artichoke Project, commissioned by Durham City Council visit Lumiere Festival.

Rachel McAlley

Rachel is currently a UK travel writer and beauty writer for House of Coco, she spends most of the week locked away in her country garden studio watching the world whizz by, and most of the weekend whizzing around the UK!

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