Top 5 Hotspots in Visit in Bishop Auckland
Bishop Auckland is one of the many unsung towns in County Durham that has a lot of rich history, culture and plenty of hidden gems for people (including families with children) to explore. The town offers plenty of attractions and historic touristy hotspots worth a family day-out. All of which have a excellent accessibility and cater to people of all needs.
Bishop Auckland Hotspot 1# Kynren
“Kynren” was named after the Anglo Saxon word “Cynren” which means “generation”, “kin” and/or “family”. The name fits well for the attraction- based in Bishop Auckland- as it’s shows depict Arthur’s epic discovery of his own roots.
This major Bishop Auckland attraction is essentially an open-air theatre or show that takes you through as many as 29 dramatic scenes, that feature thrilling, action-packed and emotional stories celebrating the history of Great Britain.
The show is unique, and is the most spectacular spectacles in the Northeast that takes place in Bishop Auckland every summer. It is run entirely by volunteers of all ages from as young 5+. It features live animals in many of the enacted scenes. With live action, amazing stunts, and choreographed battle scenes and pyrotechnics, the show is certainly a must-see for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Kynren is an attraction like no other in County Durham, or even in the Northeast. It offers weekly spectacular evening open-air shows, and also other day-time attractions as well including the Viking Village.
Kynren is essentially an “epic tale” of England. It takes you back through the many different centuries and celebrates the milestone periods that have shaped our country throughout different eras. The notable events include the Battle of Stamford Bridge and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee which are all re-enacted with real live acting. A combination of choreographed performing, horseback stunts, breath-taking special effects, pyrotechnics and even use of live animals, will guarantee you goose-bumps and excitement!
You will be sitting in an open-air theatre, sitting on the stands (the Tribune) that watches over the entire arena. On the arena you will witness battle scenes, edge-of-your-seat action, emotional acting, and well-choreographed horsemanship. There will be music, dancing, fighting, singing and dramatic interacting performed entirely by volunteers.
The Viking Village
There is also the Viking Village just off the Tribune which features a large enclosure with a small cluster of old village huts that include a real blacksmith’s forge where you can see them banging hot metal to make chainmail!
You can visit the Viking Village during the day time prior to the main show. All access to the Viking Village is included in the tickets for the shows.
Other Kynren Attractions
There is also the Arche’s Hall Dining, a brand-new instalment on the site. It features a small terrace looking over the lakeside, where visitors can sit and dine like a royal!
You get pre-dinner drinks and a three-course meal all included in the package. This is a separately ticketed event and can only be booked on the show nights if you have already booked for the main show. The dining experience takes place prior the the start of the show.
What makes Kynren unique is that it is ran entirely by volunteers. That includes every person who performs in the actual show, as well as the staff working behind the scenes and with the customers.
You can also volunteer if you are interested, it is an amazing opportunity to become something that is part of the community of Bishop Auckland and County Durham. It is a great way to meet new people and make friends, and it is also a good bit of experience to put in your resume as voluntary work experience.
Visitors coming to Kynren are encouraged to feel as comfortable as possible. This is made sure of by the volunteers working on site. Check out the listing page to read more about the main points of accessibility. Most important points to note include:
- Blue badge parking
- Wheelchair-friendly pathways
- Disabled toilets
- Shuttle bus
- Dedicated smoking areas
- Personal assistance tickets
If you find this interesting, then check out their website HERE to book tickets and read more about Kynren.
Bishop Auckland Hotspot #2 Miners Art Gallery
The Miners Art Gallery is a museum that celebrates the culture, life and community of the coal mining industry in the Northeast. Visitors can see quality artwork and get a feel of the bravery of the coalminers who risked their lives everyday. Walking through the gallery and seeing the artwork is a moving experience conveyed via art. The art depicts how human creativity and good spirit can shine even in the darkest places.
Visiting the Gallery
The Miners Art Gallery showcases over 420 works of art all created by local artists. It’s a powerful depiction of the harsh lives of working in the coal mines and it all reflects livelihoods of the Durham miners.
One of the special exhibition events that are held at the museum include the Durham Miner’s Gala exhibition in 2022. This is a collection of miners art celebrating the annual festival held in Durham each summer since 1871. The artwork embodies the spirit of the Durham’s Big Meeting and how it is significant to the people of County Durham even today.
Check out their website to see other events that have taken place.
For anyone who plans on visiting the gallery, it is worth noting that the venue is accommodating to people of all needs and extra requirements. We have highlighted some of the main points of accessibility here:
- Public transport is highly accessible from the gallery, with a bus stop right on the doorstep.
- Wheelchair accessibility including ramp access into building entrance.
- Signs and ushers to help with navigating around the gallery.
- Disabled toilets.
- Disabled parking right on the doorstep of the gallery in the marketplace.
Visit our listings page to read more about the gallery and it’s accessibility.
Bishop Auckland Hotspot #3 Spanish Art Gallery
This is the first gallery in the UK that exclusively showcases art that celebrates the history and culture of Spain. The gallery is located in the heart of Bishop Auckland right in the marketplace and is directly opposite the Miners Art Gallery.
Visiting the Spanish Gallery
There is plenty of rich history and fascinating works of art to explore and learn about. Including the 16th and 17th century artwork outside London by some of the best Spanish painters. This artwork tells the story of the journey of these masterpieces from Spain to England. Other exhibits include the El Greco’s “Christ on a Cross”.
New to the gallery in 2022, the brand new tapas restaurant- El Castillo- adjoins the Spanish Gallery. Visitors can stay and dine at a traditional Spanish food restaurant after visiting the gallery. Find out more about the restaurant in our listing for it here.
The Auckland Project- who own the Miners Art Gallery, Auckland Castle and the Spanish Art Gallery- are dedicated to the learning and engagement in Bishop Auckland. Visitors to the Spanish Gallery can get up close and immerse themselves in the fantastic culture of Spain. Much of the work at the gallery is drawn from a collection of the Auckland Project’s and has developed activities and exhibitions at the venue in partnership with Durham University, and other galleries around the world.
Visiting the Spanish Gallery is an experience that is welcoming and inspiring for all people including people with additional needs. Accessibility is an important part of the venue with it being fairly new to the area. Some of the main points include:
- Wheelchair accessibility including ramped walkways into the building entrance, plus automatic doors.
- Signs and notices around the venue.
- Staff dedicated to guiding and helping the visitors.
- Public transport including bus stop right outside the museum.
- Disabled parking right outside the museum.
Of course, we have a listing page for this too! find out more about the exhibitions, events and their accessibility here.
Bishop Auckland Hotspot #4 Auckland Tower
Standing tall in the heart of Bishop Auckland is the brand new Auckland Tower that belongs to the Auckland Project. It can be seen as part of the Bishop Auckland landmarks you can see as you drive into the town.
The tower had been built in 2017 and first opened in 2018 to the public. People visiting the attraction can walk all the way up to the top and marvel the view of the entire town and it’s surrounding land. The view from the tower is a great way for visitors to start their day out in Bishop Auckland.
Visiting the Auckland Tower Attraction
When you enter the main entrance at the bottom of the tower, you will step into the reception room which is ornately decorated with colourful painted ceilings.
Here, you can buy tickets to visit other attractions in Bishop Auckland owned by The Auckland Project including the Auckland Castle, Miners Art Gallery, and the Spanish Gallery. It’s also a great place to find out more about events taking place in the town, and to learn more about the history of Bishop Auckland. There are also maps and guidebooks available.
Then you can climb up the tower to see for yourself how spectacular the historic town in County Durham is.
When visiting the tower, you will find that it is accommodating to people of all different needs and requirements and the staff working their will help you and ensure everyone enjoys their visit. Some of the main points of accessibility include:
- A lift that can take you straight up to the top of the tower. Wheelchair users and pushchairs won’t need to worry about climbing all those steps.
- Toilets within the reception building, including a disabled toilet.
- The tower is located right next to the marketplace of Bishop Auckland, alongside the Miners Art Gallery, and there is a bus stop and taxi rank right on the doorstep.
- People will have to cross a main road to get from the disabled car park and bus stop to get to the tower and castle, there is a designated crossing traffic island where it is safest for people to cross as it can get busy.
- Guidebooks, maps and signage around the venue to help navigate visitors.
- Staff at reception and on the tower are also happy to help.
- And tickets can be booked for the tower and other attractions online here.
Further information on the Auckland Tower’s accessibility can be found on our listing page here.
Bishop Auckland Hotspot #5 Auckland Castle
Finally, last but not least, the Auckland Castle. A major Bishop Auckland hotspot that sits on the edge of the marketplace, just a minute’s walk from the town centre. It’s clock tower entrance stands at the forefront marking the gateway to the beautiful park land and woods.
After recent years, the whole castle grounds has undergone some major works and it still remains an ongoing project.
First thing you see as you approach the caste grounds is the clock tower entrance, a structure that is itself a landmark of the historic town. When you walk through it, you step into an open-spaced terrace which overlooks the river Gaunless to the right and to the left is the castle entrance.
Continue walking down until you get to the arched entrance marked with iron gates, and this is where visitors enter the prehistoric castle greens with the building entrance directly ahead.
The castle itself is one the best-preserved Bishops place’s in Europe that recently reopened following major conservation works. Visiting the castle is an experience that will give you an idea of the men that have helped shape England.
Visiting the Castle
When you visit the Auckland Castle, you will immerse yourself in over 1000 years of history. Some of the main highlights of the Auckland Castle include:
- Marvel the castle’s splendid interior including the Throne Room and the Bishop’s former apartments.
- Check out the life-size figure paintings by masters of the Spanish Golden Age of Art.
- And be amazed by one of the largest chapels in Europe- the St Peter’s Chapel.
Visiting the Deer Park Attraction
Another attraction is the Deer Park is also located within the Auckland Castle grounds, in the park land neighbouring the town centre. Continue walking passed the main castle entrance and through a wooden gate and you will enter the woodland.
Visitors can walk around the woodland on the main footpath which eventually takes you up a little hill to the deer house. The deer house is a gothic style building intended for sheltering and feeding the deer that inhabited the grounds 800 years ago.
The park land stretches on further beyond the deer house, across the meandering river Gaunless, where there is plenty of open-spaced green land with benches that can be used as a quiet spot for a picnic.
The deer park is free to visit, you do not have to enter the castle to walk round the park so it is not ticketed and is open every day all year round.
Upon visiting Auckland Castle, it has recently been renovated but remains to be an old building, so visitors can be reassured that wheelchairs can access most rooms in the castle. Main points of accessibility include:
- Easy wheelchair access at entrance and around park. All footpaths and ground are gravelled and paved flat. Gateways are wide and easy to pass through.
- Not a long walk from the marketplace, just a couple of minutes. There is a bus stop, taxi rank and disabled parking spaces at the marketplace. The other attractions including the Auckland Tower and Galleries are situated in the marketplace.
- The Auckland castle is ticketed, tickets can be booked online here.
- The deer park is open to the public all year round everyday, and is free to visit.
- Dogs are not allowed inside the castle building except guide dogs.
- Signs and notices provide information on the castle’s history and help visitors navigate the attraction.
- There is a cafe within the castle building where visitors can stop and buy refreshments including hot and cold drinks and snacks.
- There are lifts for visitors to access the rooms upstairs.
- There are disabled toilets in the castle building.
Further information on the Auckland Castle’s accessibility can be found on our listing page here.
This blog was intended to provide you with insight on how to plan your visit in Bishop Auckland, highlighting the hotspots to visit in Bishop Auckland in terms of things to see and do…
There are also other listings on places to eat and drink including cafes, bars and restaurants. You can check them out here!
Thank you and we hope you found this blog useful!