A fun-filled summer season of entertainment has begun at a historic venue in County Durham.
Bishop Auckland Town Hall has launched its summer programme of events, with exhibitions, activities, and performances to entertain audiences of all ages, from music festivals and cabaret to storytelling sessions for children.
This year the Durham County Council-run venue is also supporting the county’s bid for UK City of Culture 2025, showcasing the vast and dynamic culture and entertainment on offer throughout the county.
At the end of the month, the recently refurbished town hall will be hosting its inaugural Baccanalia Festival, a two-day celebration full of comedy and entertainment.
Across Saturday 30 April and Sunday 1 May, the festival will see performances from a wide variety of talent, including Edinburgh Fringe crime comedy act CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation and Musical Comedy Award winner Katie Pritchard.
There will also be a chance to enjoy all-female improv comedy act Notflix: The Improvised Musical and glitter-fuelled burlesque and mind-blowing magic from Tom Brace.
Hilarity Bites Comedy Club will be hosting a special comedy event at the festival, with Paul Sinha’s Hazy Little Thing Called Love. The club will then be running its regular comedy night on Friday 20 May, headlined by comedian David Hadingham.
May also marks the beginning of the town hall’s Lunchtime Concert Series, opening with dynamic organ-based band The Gerry Richardson Trio on Friday 13 May.
The series will continue throughout the summer, with The Francis Tulip Quartet on Friday 17 June, The Alex Clarke Quartet on Friday 8 July, and The Ben Gilbert Trio on Friday 12 August.
And a brand-new adaptation of Terry Deary’s True Ghost Stories will chill the spines of audiences on Sunday 29 May, with tales of ghastly ghosts and ancient curses, written by the creator of Horrible Histories.
Bishop Auckland Town Hall’s gallery space will also feature a number of exhibitions throughout the summer, beginning with Emma Fay’s exploration of wellbeing and what ‘strength’ means to different people.
Emma’s visual experience exhibition, Resilience, Remedies and Reasons, running from Saturday 30 April to Thursday 30 June, will be accompanied by work from Daisy Arts and Daisy Arts Youth, with photographs and art created in response to Emma’s work.
From 11 July to 27 August, the gallery will feature Bishop Oakland, an exhibition by artist Bethan Maddock inspired by the ancient trees and forests of County Durham.
The interactive exhibition, which encourages play and reflection, will allow visitors to explore a forest full of paper tree trunks, unfurling foliage and coloured leaves which they can touch, listen, and add to.
The town hall’s regular free engagement sessions will continue throughout the summer, with Art Club every Wednesday evening, Veterans’ Drop-In sessions every fourth Wednesday afternoon, family Singin’ in the BATH on the second Saturday of every month, and CoderDojo children’s coding sessions on the first Saturday of every month.
There will also be a number of films being shown at the town hall’s cinema throughout April and May, including Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and Operation Mincemeat.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “There are so many exciting things on offer this summer at Bishop Auckland Town Hall with plenty to entertain visitors of all ages. From music festivals to storytelling sessions, there is so much to get involved in.
“Our summer programme is just one of many exciting attractions that take place at Bishop Auckland Town Hall throughout the year. From art exhibitions and galleries to music and performances, we have a large and varied cultural offer right across all of our venues in County Durham, supporting the county’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.”
To view the full season programme and book tickets for upcoming events, visit www.bishopaucklandtownhall.org.uk