AFTER six months of closure due to the pandemic, Darlington Hippodrome opened its doors and welcomed people in again for the first time this week.

The milestone, on Monday, September 7, comes after significant changes both in terms of social distancing and what's on.

The socially-distanced season of activities for people of all ages kicks off with a film screening of Grease, the same week a live production of the movie was originally scheduled.

While live shows are not yet taking centre stage and the theatre's pantomime has been pushed to 2021, there are a range of regular dance and fitness sessions, a book club, drawing workshops, quizzes and theatre tours and further film screenings.

Heather Tarran-Jones, Programming and Development director said: "The Hippodrome is central to Darlington’s cultural activity and the town’s identity and we felt strongly that it was vital to re-open our doors as soon as we could do this safely.

"While we aren’t yet presenting live shows, engagement activities have always been a key part of what we do at the Hippodrome and we have expanded our participatory programme with additional classes and courses such as adult dance classes, drawing sessions, book groups, and our ever-popular backstage tours.

"We are also able to show classic films in our beautiful Edwardian auditorium with socially distanced seating, and reopen our café and box office.

"Since we were forced to close our doors in March, we have missed our audience tremendously, and it has been wonderful to see the public coming through the doors once again and supporting us by taking part."

The theatre’s gallery spaces are open from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Saturday, as well as the box office and Hippo Lounge.

The latter two are also open thirty minutes before each ticketed event.

The Hippodrome is operating at reduced capacity and has introduced a one-way system, social distancing and table service while staff will wear PPE.