COUNTY Durham is a step closer to being crowned UK City of Culture 2025 after making the longlist of eight locations that will progress to the next stage of the prestigious contest.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed the area had been chosen from the 20 bidding locations and organisers now have until January to finalise the bid.

Durham County Council submitted the initial expression of interest with principal partner Durham University on behalf of Culture Durham.

Read more: Ambulance patients face six hour wait in Darlington 

Tony Harrington, chairman of Culture Durham, said: “We are absolutely thrilled County Durham has made it to the next stage of the UK City of Culture 2025 competition.

“Our bid is on behalf of the whole of County Durham and we believe it is our diverse heritage, landscapes and communities that make it so special.

“Our aim is to deliver an inclusive cultural programme that resonates with our communities and reflects our desire to innovate, inspire and grow.”

The DCMS announcement follows news the BBC plans to invest £25 million in the North East over the next five years.

Arts Council England has also named County Durham as one of its priority places for investment as part of its three-year delivery programme.

Councillor Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council, said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for County Durham and the North East. Securing the UK City of Culture 2025 title would bring transformational social and economic benefits for the entire region. Even making it this far will have a positive impact, with the increased publicity attracting more visitors and providing a boost to the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors.

“Over the last few months, it has been wonderful to see excitement for the bid grow, and I would like to thank everyone for their support. It is vital we keep this momentum going and continue to fly the flag for County Durham.”

The diverse cultural range offered by Durham University is a key part of the bid.

Professor Antony Long, acting vice-chancellor and warden at Durham University said: “We look forward to working with Durham County Council and our other partners in the run up to the final UK City of Culture announcement and celebrating the wealth of cultural opportunities available in our beautiful county.”

The eight other longlisted locations are Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Bradford, Cornwall, Derby, Southampton, Stirling and Wrexham County Borough.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Culture is for everyone, regardless of their background and I’m delighted that the bids from our eight longlisted places will help areas across the UK level up by increasing access to culture.

“I wish all our successful bids luck in the next phase of the competition. County Durham’s bid showed huge promise and I look forward to seeing what they have in store.”

As one of the final eight locations, County Durham will receive £40,000 from DCMS to develop its bid.

It is understood the overall winner will be declared in May.

The winning location will then take on the baton from Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021, which has so far attracted more than £100m in capital investment to support cultural projects.

To find out more about the bid, submit ideas and leave messages of support, visit or follow the Durham 2025 social media accounts at, or

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054