BISHOP Auckland, in the Vale of Durham, is a lively market town with a fascinating 2,000-year heritage.
Standing high above a meander in the River Wear, the town has commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
The site of an important market since medieval time, “Bishop”, as it’s affectionately known by locals, grew rapidly as a colliery town in the 19th century.
But its historic roots stretch back even further, as nearby are some of the best-preserved Roman remains in the country at Binchester Roman Fort. And at 7th century Escomb Saxon Church, there is a Roman arch and stonework.
The food festival takes place in the grounds of the 12th century Auckland Castle, which was once the palace of the Prince Bishops for more than 900 years.
The historic town centre has a thriving arts and cultural scene, and at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, there is a superb library, cinema, theatre and arts complex.
For some retail therapy, head for Bondgate and Newgate Street for boutiques and specialist shops that you won’t find on the high street, while the Newgate Centre offers even more retailers to choose from.
When it’s time to refuel, you’ll find a great selection of cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants to choose from.
THE Food Festival takes place in the Vale of Durham, but venture further afield and experience Durham City, the Durham Dales and Durham Coast.
History-lovers can experience Durham’s rich heritage brought to life at award-winning attractions including Beamish Museum, Locomotion – The National Railway Museum at Shildon and Killhope – the North of England Lead Mining Museum.
Step back in time and discover the treasures of the world-famous Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Bowes Museum and Raby Castle.
Or enjoy family fun at Hall Hill Farm, Tweddle Farm, Beamish Wild and Adventure Valley.
Take in the sights and smells of Durham’s glorious gardens, including Crook Hall and Durham University’s Botanic Garden.
Escape to the peace and tranquillity of the Durham Dales and North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – home to High Force waterfall, or experience the rugged beauty of the Durham Heritage Coast.
And if you long to be outdoors and active, you will find walking and cycling routes galore.
If you crave culture, Gala Theatre in Durham City runs a year-round programme of exciting performances. Or if you prefer sports to shows, head to the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground.
Enjoy a little retail therapy in Durham City where boutiques and craft shops can be found around every corner.
Durham’s market towns each have their own unique shopping experience, while Dalton Park is a must for bargain hunters.
And when looking for somewhere to eat, let the Taste Durham mark guide you. The food quality mark, proudly displayed by more than 60 food and drink businesses across the county, assures you of a warm welcome and the finest fare.