Kynren has finally arrived. When the epic outdoor show was first announced it seemed like madness to expect thousands of people to sit in a field in County Durham, late into the night, spending good money in the hope that the English summer would be kind to them. The idea of finding a further thousand volunteers to put their heart and soul into creating the production seemed ridiculous. No more so however than having a millionaire philanthropist step forward to initially buy a set of art treasures so that they could be kept in the area, followed by the castle in which they are housed, and then to snap up the adjacent Roman fort and surrounding fields to add to the portfolio, all to be kept accessible to the public.
Despite all of the obstacles, Jonathan Ruffer’s vision for Bishop Auckland has become a reality and it is awesome! On Saturday night I joined 7,000 others in that County Durham field and was filled with pride at what the North East has achieved.
Kynren – the outdoor night time spectacular
Under the shadow of the Roman fort of Binchester we sat in anticipation, looking out across the lake which forms the centre piece of the Kynren stage. In the distance the silhouette of Auckland Castle, home to the Zurbarán paintings which where the starting point for this whole adventure, slowly became highlighted by its glowing stained glass windows, as the last of the daylight faded.
In partnership with Puy du Fou, the French experts at creating outdoor night time spectaculars, the team at Eleven Arches tell the story of England over 90 minutes with incredible sound and lighting effects in the style of the London Olympics opening ceremony. The arches of Durham Cathedral rise from the lake, projected onto a curtain of water fired from huge fountain canons. George Stephenson’s Locomotion steams across the stage and a menagerie of horses, sheep and geese add to the spectacle.
So what do you need to know when you go to Kynren? Arrive early – at least an hour before the show starts. It is a long walk from the car park, though shuttle buses are available. Umbrellas are not allowed, as they would prevent those sitting behind from seeing the show, so bring a waterproof or buy a poncho when you arrive. Picnics are also on the prohibited list, though there are plenty of food outlets around the site.
Plans for the future in Bishop Auckland
The show is incredible, and this is only the start. Plans are already being made for next year and developments on the drawing board for Auckland Castle look stunning. A few years ago these seemed fanciful and most thought that they would never become a reality but having come this far they suddenly look achievable.
So do come to the show. If you are travelling a long way, stay for a few days and see the other treasures of County Durham – visit Beamish, the Bowes Museum and High Force waterfall and you are guaranteed a fantastic trip. If you are a local, you owe it to yourself to see the show and to celebrate the new world class visitor attraction on your doorstep.