VISITORS to Lumiere festival in Durham City are being encouraged to use park and ride services to try and minimise city centre congestion.

The UK's largest light festival starts today (Thursday, November 14) and is expected to attract tens of thousands of people over its four-day run.

With estimates that this year could be the biggest Lumiere yet, visitors are advised to use the city’s park and ride service, which will offer an extended service during the festival including three additional facilities.

Dave Wafer, Durham County Council’s strategic traffic manager, said: “We are expecting large numbers of visitors to the city during Lumiere so it is important that festival-goers plan their travel arrangements in advance in order to make the most of the event.

“We would also advise anyone travelling through the city takes into account how the increased traffic may affect their journey.”

Up to 6,000 parking spaces will be available across sites at the normal Belmont, Howlands and Sniperley sites and three additional facilities at New College Durham, Merryoaks and Annand House at Meadowfield.

Regular services will run from to and from each site into the city centre, with extra stops to allow people to explore the event from a variety of start and finish locations.

Services will run until 11.30pm each night, while car parks will remain open round-the-clock. Return tickets are £2 per person or free for concessionary pass holders and under-16s who are accompanied by an adult.

Local bus operators will also be providing additional services.

As in previous years, anyone wishing to enter the market place or peninsula area of the city between 4.30pm and 7.30pm will require a ticket.

A one-way system will also be in place in some areas around the market place and cathedral in order to help manage the flow of people.

Access to the peninsula and some other areas of the city will also be limited in the run up to the festival due to a number of road and footpath closures.