TEENAGERS from across County Durham can immerse themselves in the arts during a weekend long festival this summer.

The first ever youth arts festival for 13 to 18-year-olds who live anywhere in the county will be held in Barnard Castle in July.

Up to 200 young people will be able to take part in the event which is being used as a pilot for a bigger festival that is proposed for next year.

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Over the weekend of July 12 and 13, a wide variety of arts activities will be held across three sites in the town - Teesdale School, Teesdale Leisure Centre and The TCR Hub.

A £10,900 grant from Arts Council England, £3,000 from the Sir James Knott Trust and neighbourhood budget funding from Teesdale Action Partnership will support the event.

Project manager Jill Cole said: “The weekend is going to be action packed and will have a real festival feel.

“There will be professionally run workshops throughout the weekend and the chance to try all sorts of great activities including DJing, street dance, carnival making, drumming, graffiti, street music, drama, crafts and much, much more.”

There will also be professional theatre shows, a youth band gig on the Saturday night and organisers have linked up with BRASS: Durham International Festival to secure artists for the festival line-up.

Young people can camp overnight if attending all weekend, try some of the activities available at the £5m youth facility The Hub and food will be included.

The original idea for the festival came from Mike Bettison, a theatre professional who formerly chaired Teesdale Action Partnership’s children and young people’s group.

Mr Bettison, who has managed and appeared in many arts festivals, feels that the combined site with adjoining playing fields and enclosed outdoor spaces provides an ideal safe environment for such an event.

Young people are helping to plan the event which has included choosing the name YOUfest, which was the idea of 14-year-old Lorna Armstrong, a pupil at Staindrop School, who also designed the image for the festival publicity.

Individuals or groups can apply for a place and booking forms will be available to download from the TCR website tcrhub.co.uk or via schools and youth groups.

The cost is £10 for a one-day pass, £5 just for the Saturday night gig and £25 for a full weekend pass, giving access to all activities and overnight camping.

For further information call Jill Cole on 07802-603008.