Durham Miners Gala

Where: Durham, Co. Durham - city centre
When: 2nd Saturday in July
Time: from 8.30 approx; Cathedral blessing 3pm

 

Elvet

Though most of the mines closed some time ago, the Durham Miners Gala is still a major demonstration of trade union and labour support; unions from other industries now participate and it’s undergone something of a revival in recent years. Union banners aloft, a truly grand procession with brass band accompaniment marches from the city to the  old Racecourse where there are speeches by major left-wing political figures (from about 12.30) and entertainments including a funfair. There is a memorial service in Durham Cathedral at 3  in the afternoon where the banners are blessed. The focus of the procession is the point where the groups merge into one huge formation at the County Hotel at Old Elevet, where the great and good watch from the hotel balcony as the groups perform in turn below – the crowd is particularly dense at this point and it can take hours for everyone to pass. The atmosphere is fantastic and very welcoming! Expect pipe bands as well as brass, playing everything from traditional tunes to pop ; the beautifully illustrated banners are a significant part of the visual spectacle.

Further reading :
Splendour of the Gala: The Durham Miners’ Gala and the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic.
by Ken and Jean Smith [link]

Helpful Hints

It’s  frequently though not exclusively pronounced “gayla”  (the only time I know of that this pronunciation is used, and the subject of much debate) and is also known as The Big Meeting. Expect large crowds of up to 100,000. There are town centre road closures and parking is a challenge – we found the park and ride very useful and much less hassle.

Programmes are on sale all through town (£2 each in 2013 and full of photos).

In 2017 it will be held on Saturday July 8th.

Click here for the event website : http://www.durhamminers.org


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