A SPECTACULAR flower festival has opened at a North-East tourism attraction with visitors promised “a truly unforgettable experience”.

Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Maura Regan, paid a glowing tribute to those behind the development of Ushaw College as a visitor destination and events venue, describing it as “another jewel in the crown of County Durham and the North-East”.

Ms Regan was speaking this evening (Tuesday) as she represented the Lord Lieutenant, Sue Snowdon, in opening the Ushaw Flower Festival.

The festival, which is open to the public between 11am and 5pm from Wednesday until Sunday, brings together more than 30 flower arranging groups from local churches.

The festival is one of many events marking the 450th anniversary of Ushaw’s foundation institution, the English College of Douai.

Ushaw, a former Catholic seminary near the County Durham village of Ushaw Moor, was opened to the public four years ago and has stunning architecture, chapels, exhibition spaces and gardens.

Ms Regan said: “It has incredible history and I am confident that it has a bright and exciting future. What has happened here in the past four years is incredible.”

She went on to pay tribute to the creativity of the arrangers who had worked so hard to make the festival a reality with so many “floral masterpieces”.

Her visit to Ushaw was marked by her planting a magnolia tree in the beautiful gardens.

Day passes at Ushaw cost £5 per person and this entitles visitors to free admission for the next 12 months. For more information, go to www.ushaw.org or call 0191 3345119.