Thousands took to the streets of Durham this evening for two of the region's most exciting cultural events of the year so far.

For the city hosted both the opening night of the Durham Mysteries, a modern revival of the medieval tradition of street plays based on Bible stories, and race two of the high-octane 2010 Halfords Tour Series cycling contest.

Durham Mysteries spectator Linda Aldridge, 60, of Durham, said: "It was really good. I really enjoyed seeing the young people taking past.

"I like that different community groups are contributing, it's like it used to be. People are walking around the city talking about it, which is great."

The Mysteries, ten specially commissioned plays from star names such as Ian McMillan and David Almond were staged across three venues: the Gala Theatre, Durham Cathedral and outdoor at The Sands.

Mr McMillan said: "To see ten plays by different writers is very exciting. I've been interested in the Mysteries idea and when I go past Durham on the train, it's a fantastic sight.

"When they asked me to do this, I thought: 'Wow, yes'."

Top cycling talent battled it out over the city streets as part of the second round of the televised 2010 Halfords Tour Series.

The individual winner tonight was 49-year-old Malcolm Elliott of Sheffield, the winning team was Motorpoint Marshall's Pasta while the Series Sprint Competition sponsored by Boardman Bikes was won by Kristian House.

While tonight's cycle race was a one-off for Durham, the Mysteries will be staged again tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

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