County Durham shortlisted in final four of UK City of Culture 2025, with winner set to be announced in May

County Durham has been named among the final four places shortlisted to be the UK City of Culture in 2025.
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Following a record 20 bids for the 2025 UK City of Culture, County Durham has been named alongside Bradford, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough as the final four shortlisted in the competition.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorris approved the four locations based on independent advice made to the government by a panel of experts led by chairman of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, Sir Phil Redmond.

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During the process, bidders were asked to explain how they would use culture to grow and strengthen their local area and recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

County Durham have made it to the final four of the UK City of Culture 2025County Durham have made it to the final four of the UK City of Culture 2025
County Durham have made it to the final four of the UK City of Culture 2025
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Winning the City of Culture comes with an array of benefits, including attracting millions of pounds in investment and a year in the cultural spotlight with hundreds of events which encourage long lasting participation in the arts, as well as growth in local tourism.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “The UK City of Culture competition shows the important role that culture can play in levelling up our towns, cities and rural communities - bringing investment, great events, thousands of tourists, and opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds.

“We have seen a huge positive impact in this year’s host city, Coventry, with millions of pounds in investment and thousands of visitors.

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“This has been a record year for bids, which is great to see. Congratulations to the four shortlisted places - I wish them all the best of luck”

County Durham launched its bid in 2021 in a partnership of organisations including Beamish Museum, Durham Cathedral, Durham University and railway museum Locomotion.

The expert advisory panel will now visit the four shortlisted places before making a final recommendation in May.

Sir Phil Redmond, chairman of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, said: “Culture can act as a catalyst for community engagement, civic cohesion and a driver for economic and social change as previously seen not just in Derry-Londonderry (2013), Hull (2017) and Coventry (2021), but all those other places who went on a journey to develop their own cultural strategy.

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“I am now looking forward to visiting each of the shortlisted places with the panel to witness culture’s catalytic effect in action.”

Among the events planned for County Durham, should it be successful, include the bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and Lightyear, a 12-month programme marking the region’s contribution to astronomy and space science.

And it is hoped victory in the contest could create 2,500 jobs in the county by 2029.

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.

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

“Securing this title would place our extraordinary people and places at the heart of an unforgettable and inclusive programme of events and activities.”

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