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Plan your visit - venues, parking & festival map
Planning Your Visit
In order to offer an inclusive festival for hundreds of adults (many of whom have accessibility requirements), in a heritage city centre, on a busy Saturday, we have worked hard to reduce potential barriers to take part. The festival has our own event car park to reduce parking anxiety and costs. Our accessible shuttle buses can help you get to and from our venues. Our friendly team of volunteers will be there to support you throughout the day. And our fully accessible venues offer toilet facilities and quiet rooms.
To help you plan your visit, we have provided detailed information which we encourage our singers to take a little time to familiarise themselves with before coming along.
Festival Venues in the heart of Durham City
Elvet Methodist Church - Main Venue
Elvet Methodist Church, Old Elvet, DH1 3HL
Fully accessible | Toilets | Quiet Room | Festival Office
Elvet is our main venue and will host most of the festival including:
- Registration on arrival
- Three of our workshop spaces including the 400 seater church space
- The mid-afternoon ‘Big Sing’ with all voices
- The evening performance
- Meal breaks (for packed lunch & tea)
St. Cuthbert's Catholic Church
St.Cuthbert's Catholic Church, Old Elvet, DH1 3HL
Fully accessible | Toilets | Quiet Room
Durham Town Hall
Durham Town Hall, Market Place, Durham DH1 3NJ
Fully accessible | Toilets | Quiet Room
Durham Rowing Club
Event Car Park & Workshop Venue
City Boathouse, Green Lane, Old Elvet, DH13JU
Fully accessible | Toilets | Quiet Room
Cafe serving breakfast & lunch | Bar serving drinks into evening
Singing Walk Workshop Location
Base location for our mindful singing walks which will take singers on a gentle walk along the accessible tarmac pavements on the riverbanks, past the bandstand and into the City.
Car Park Key Details:
- Where possible and suitable, drop your passengers off in our Drop Off Zone before parking to ease pressure on buses at peak times
- Take a riverside walk or our shuttle bus to Elvet to register on arrival
- Grab a cuppa or a snack from the cafe whilst you wait for the bus
- Arrivals between 9am - 1.30pm due to stewards/bus schedule after 2pm
- Return to your vehicle at any time, return buses run throughout event
- Stewards co-ordinate bus return to car park at end of your last session
- Public parking nearby for those arriving after 2pm
- Free street parking from 6pm for those arriving for Evening Performance
- Extra provision for those with Accessibility Needs and Festival Volunteers
Event Car Park - £5 for day
Add a parking space at Durham Rowing Club to your booking
Accessible via the A1 Bowburn Junction 61, our event car park is conveniently located on the Old Elvet side of the river, enabling drivers to avoid the busy city centre area by arriving on the A177 past Houghall or easily access from the A690 via the city's central roundabout.
Car sharing is encouraged due to limited car parking spaces and therefore only one parking ticket can be purchased with each festival booking and must be booked on our system in advance. Drivers must state their Vehicle Number Plate during booking to avoid parking fines.
No arrivals to our event car park are possible after 1.30pm due to the steward & bus requirements of the festival at this point. You can return to your vehicle at any time.
How to time your arrival
Arrive ONE HOUR early if using our event car park
We recommend you arrive ONE HOUR before your first session starts to allow time to park, walk or take our Shuttle Bus to Elvet, register and take your seats in good time. Some singers may choose to arrive earlier than this, register and then go into the City before their first session. You will be asked to tell us your anticipated arrival time during booking. If you aren't sure, you can return to your booking later to update your timings. This will help us to plan our bus rotas to optimise transport costs.
Where possible and suitable, before arriving at the car park, drivers are asked to drop their passengers off in our designated drop off zone marked on our Festival Map at top of Old Elvet, near the Court, which is a 200m downhill walk on pavements to our main venue, Elvet Methodist Church. This will relieve pressure off the buses at peak times by reducing the number of passengers.
There is limited drop-off space directly outside Elvet, especially as this is where our buses will be dropping off. We therefore ask visitors to avoid being dropped-off there for safety reasons, or ask drivers to briefly pull into one of the street parking bays on Old Elvet to drop off. (Drivers must remain with the vehicle, or pay for a short stay to avoid being ticketed by the City's eager traffic wardens.)
Facilities at Durham Rowing Club
Festival Ticket Holders will have access to accessible toilets and a quiet room. There is a sheltered Cafe area outside of the building where singers can wait their turn for our shuttle buses. We also recommend using their reasonably priced daytime Cafe for refreshments, breakfast and lunch. The bar will also serve a range of drinks throughout the day. Why not meet up with your friends for a cuppa on arrival?
Festival Shuttle Minibus - transport from car park & between venues
Remember to tell us if you plan to use the shuttle bus during your booking
As part of our commitment to accessibility and in order to reduce parking anxiety and costs for participants, we have hired shuttle minibuses to transport singers who are unable to walk from our car park to our main venue at Elvet. Transport is also available to those with accessibility needs between our other venues.
Shuttle Bus Key Details:
- You'll be asked to state your arrival time during booking
- We recommend arriving ONE HOUR before the start of your first session to allow time to park, walk or bus to Elvet, register and take your seats
- You may wish to tell us you'll arrive earlier, register and then visit the city before your first session, if you're not attending the morning session
- We will anticipate your departure time from the end of your last session
- The shuttle service will be reduced after 5pm to give our drivers a break
- However, return trips will be available to request via our Stewards and one bus will be on standby throughout the day for departures
- Buses will stop running once all participants have been transported to the car park immediately after the end of our Evening Shine Performance
- Our buses are fully accessible with a tail lift providing, step-free access
- We will ask you at what points of the festival you may need to use our buses during booking to assist us with planning and keeping costs down
Our event shuttle buses have been sponsored by the Mark Masons of Durham who have kindly provided support from the Durham Provincial Grand Mark Lodge Benevolent Fund. However, as the most expensive aspect of our accessibility provision, we encourage everyone to consider making a donation of £2 per person to help contribute towards the costs not covered by this funding.
In order to keep costs down, our team are carefully coordinating our Shuttle Mini Buses to ensure there is enough capacity for those with accessibility needs and those using our event car park, especially at peak times. Where possible we ask drivers to drop-off and pick up passengers from our Drop-Off Zone (details above) and on our Festival Map.
We know that for most of our singers, how you travel between venues might depend on how you are on the day due to fluctuating symptoms and energy. Of course the weather will also be a major factor and we don't expect singers to do the 1000m riverside walk in the rain. We therefore ask you to arrive in plenty of time, purchase a cuppa from the cafe whilst you wait and be patient, especially at peak times and also if the weather is poor and there is more demand.
During booking you will be asked to specify your arrival time but not your departure time back to the Car Park as we know what time your last session finishes. We have anticipated a high demand for the shuttle bus at the end of Thrive at 4.30pm and at the end of the Shine evening performance. Most of our buses will stop running between 5pm - 9pm once our daytime visitors have left to optimism costs until they are needed again for the end of the evening performance. However, you will be able to request transport assistance from our stewards from our base venue at Elvet at any point if you need to leave early. Audience members will not be able to use our event car park but street park is free after 6pm on Old Elvet.
Our minibuses are provided by an experienced community transport community who specialise in transporting those with accessibility needs. Our buses have a tail lift for those who can’t manage steps, use mobility aids or are wheelchair users. You can read lots more Accessibility Information here about anything you might need at the festival.
Food & Drink
Refreshments are not available to purchase in our venues apart from the Rowing Club Cafe Bar serving breakfast & lunch and a range of drinks.
We recommend all singers bring their own water bottles which can be refilled in the hall at our main venue. Elvet does not allow single-use plastic to be used in the venue. We will therefore be selling re-usable festival water bottles at a cost of £5 per bottle (unlimited water refills!)
Singers are welcome to bring their own picnic to enjoy indoors at our main venue Elvet Methodist Church along with drop-in creative & wellbeing activities. But we do encourage you to visit the variety of food & drink outlets within an easy 100m walk, take a stroll down to the riverside or pop across the bridge into the City, a 5-10 min walk from Elvet.
During the two hour tea break, evening performers will be given short slots to sound check and rehearse at Elvet so we will ask choirs to confirm their tea time plans to check if you are planning to leave the venue. We encourage singers to consider pre-booking tables in the variety of nearby venues to avoid disappointment. An indoor picnic area will be available within Elvet until 6pm but no food or drink will be available to purchase from Elvet at any point during the festival.
Please note: no alcohol can be brought into Elvet Methodist Church, this will be strictly adhered to and we invite singers to enjoy a drink in the nearby bars & restaurants instead.