NOTED as one of the most picturesque and historical locations across the UK, County Durham has prided itself on its stunning architecture, friendly people, and ability to mix the modern and the classic together so perfectly.

It’s these qualities that the region will be hoping to wow a judging panel with today (May 9), as it bids to become the 2025 City of Culture – and join a long line of iconic locations that have benefitted from the accolade, including Hull, Liverpool, and Derry.

If successful, like other locations that have benefitted in the past from the City of Culture tag, a tourism injection of an estimated 15 million tourists per year is expected, as well as an envious programme of culture tipped for 2025.

Read more: Why County Durham’s UK City of Culture bid would be a game changer for the North East

Ahead of the all-important judgement later today, The Northern Echo visited the City of Durham yesterday (May 8) to ask people on the street, restaurant owners, and businesses what their favourite things were about County Durham and how the City of Culture win could transform the wider county.

Chris Hayes, manager at Woven Durham, on Elvet Bridge, is hoping that if County Durham is successful with the City of Culture accolade, the whole region will be “put on the map” like Hull and Liverpool were in 2017 and 2008 respectively.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Mr Hayes said: “County Durham is the place to be – it has thriving independents, stunning buildings, Durham City has the cathedral and there’s thriving tourism and businesses wherever you look.

The Northern Echo: Chris Hayes, director at Woven Durham. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.Chris Hayes, director at Woven Durham. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

“There isn’t really a downside with getting the City of Culture. It worked wonders for locations like Hull and Liverpool and I’m hoping that it will fill the hotels, bars, shops, and restaurants of the county with the extra tourists it will bring with it.”

After the judges visit today, they will make similar stops at Wrexham, Bradford and Southampton, who are also shortlisted for the City of Culture where they will make their judgements about the history, potential and qualities that each place has.

From there, a decision will be made later in May by Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries.

Another business that is similarly excited at the prospect of new tourism, and a chance to tap in to a new market is Lebaneat restaurant on North Bailey.

The Northern Echo: Aziz Gouda, assistant owner at Lebaneat restaurant. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.Aziz Gouda, assistant owner at Lebaneat restaurant. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

Usually, their captive audience is tourists who are visiting the cathedral, as well as students who live right nearby to the Lebanese restaurant.

Aziz Gouda, assistant owner of the restaurant, said: “Our main business comes from tourists, so a boost in tourism that the City of Culture can bring would be amazing.

“Some people may see an increase in tourism as a bad thing if they are living in Durham, but we want as many customers as possible.

“Our favourite thing about County Durham is the people – they’re friendly and you can always chat away to them.

“If we can get more tourists, we’ll be able to employ more people and give more opportunities to students, as well as provide a better service.”  

The Northern Echo: Judges of the City of Culture panel will be visiting County Durham today (May 9). Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.Judges of the City of Culture panel will be visiting County Durham today (May 9). Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

Alongside our trip to Durham to see what the City of Culture meant to people, and how it could transform the county, people have been submitting their reasons for loving County Durham.

Here are a few of our favourites:

Steph (Bishop Auckland)

“County Durham has so much to offer for young people up to our older generation it's got massive potential.

“The whole of County Durham stands out for its beautiful landscape and surrounding border with other Counties and cities it's links to major roads makes County Durham a fantastic candidate for City of Culture 2025.

The Northern Echo: A view of the cathedral from The Riverwalk in Durham. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.A view of the cathedral from The Riverwalk in Durham. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

“The infrastructure of County Durham is fantastic and continues to improve all the time, the County stands out for its enormous arrays of beauty and talent too with the amount of attractions Auckland Project, Beamish, Locomotion to name but a few then obviously the iconic and famous Kynren which is obviously a massive success for the whole of County Durham.

Jarred (Durham City)

“Historically rich, visually stunning, atmospherically bursting, County Durham is the most incredible region in the land. I have travelled and worked all over the world and wouldn’t want to call anywhere else home.”

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