Cracker of birthday on fizzing weekend

Spectacular acrobatics and an exciting fireworks display were the highlights of a festival celebrating a university's 175th anniversary.


Spectacular acrobatics and an exciting fireworks display were the highlights of a festival celebrating a university's 175th anniversary.

The Illuminate Festival, which was held in Durham to coincide with the traditional regatta, was one of a number of events taking place in the region at the weekend.

The more energetic took part in the 10k Blaydon Race, running between Newcastle and Blaydon. The Lord Mayor of Newcastle Coun Peter Arnold started the race after the traditional rendition of the famous song, The Blaydon Races.

More than 4,000 people took part in the event, won by athlete Tewedros Shiferaw in 26 minutes, 28 seconds.

Meanwhile, Roman and Celtic characters from 2,000 years ago were being brought back to life in Greenhead, Northumberland as visitors mingled with soldiers, tradesmen and warriors from the period.

Among the stars of the event were eight Roman soldiers from Bonn in Germany, who impressed crowds with armour drill positions, formations and weapons training in full uniform.

The focus of this year's Northumberland Miners' Picnic was a service at the Holy Sepulchre Church in Ashington on Saturday. During the service wreaths were laid by members of the congregation in memory of family, friends and colleagues from the mining industry.

A full day of activities was then held at the new £17m mining and archives heritage centre at the former Woodhorn Colliery on the outskirts of the town.

And thousands of people also descended on Leazes Park in Newcastle for the Green Festival, an environmental extravaganza featuring bands and solo acts from all over the world.

The UK's biggest free environmental and music festival had four stages, showcasing more than 60 acts, with the point of the festival to encourage people to live a greener life.

Music workshops, an environmental trade fair, alternative therapies and a green parade were among attractions designed to drive the message home.


Pearl of day for crowds

Hundreds of spectators and supporters lined the banks of the River Wear to help make the 174th Durham Regatta one of the most successful.

The weekend rowing fest co-incided with the 175th anniversary celebrations of Durham University, and celebrations got under way on Saturday with street theatre, fireworks and a performance by visiting artists Plasticiens Volants, who brought their inflatables show Pearl from France to the banks of the River Wear.

The Regatta attracted a high standard of competition, both at national and international level.

Alongside the racing, riverside attractions included trade stands for local businesses, refreshment tents and a vintage car rally.

Jonathan Hammill, of Durham Amateur Rowing Club, which was one of the most prominent competitors alongside the university and Durham School, said: "This year's regatta has to have been one of the best ever.

"The summer weather helped. On Saturday, the chocolate store sold out and there were huge queues outside the beer tent.

"The regatta certainly attracted the crowds and there has been some first-class rowing."

About 20 schools, from Newcastle, Sunderland, Hexham, Yarm, York and Durham, entered pupils for the regatta.

Mr Hammill said: "Not only is it good for the sport, but good for them as well. Rowing requires dedication and self-discipline, but it is also good fun."


All aboard to park and ride down memory lane

Vintage buses which were once a familiar sight will be turning out in force in Durham City on Father's Day.

The fleet, some of which date back to the 1940s, have been restored by members of the North-East Bus Preservation Trust and will be used to run Durham City's park and ride service next Sunday.

The buses will operate a free return service into Durham City from the Belmont park and ride site only. Coun Bob Pendlebury, Cabinet Member for Transport with Durham County Council, which introduced the park and ride service 18 months ago, said: "As well as the buses operating the service, there will be a colourful range of others on static display at the park and ride site which should bring back memories for a lot of people.

"Their condition is a tribute to the dedication of the enthusiasts who spend countless hours restoring them, and travelling on some of the older models will afford people a real trip down memory lane."

Parking at Belmont is free that day. Preservation trust chairman Alan Shepherd said: "We hope the general public and the many visitors to the lovely City of Durham will give the free bus service a try."

The service will run from 10am until 4.30pm and will use the normal park and ride bus stops at North Road, Millburngate and Claypath. Belmont park and ride is close to junction 62 of the A1(M) and the A690.


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