Here on the blog we wanted to share some of our favourite things about Darlington, and show how our Jabberwocky Market is just the latest in a long line of exciting things taking place in this vibrant northern hotspot of cultural events, art and heritage.
1. Thriving Arts Community When the arts centre closed down in 2012 the local community was determined not to let our town be deprived of the arts. With the setting up of Darlington for Culture, introduction of the annual Festival of Thrift, and many weekly arts events such as the film club at Forum Music Centre, Darlington has ensured that there is still plenty on offer.
2. Grange Road’s Independent Centres. We all love our big chains and brands, but for something a bit different and one off, Darlington has a great selection of independent shops and cafes situated around Grange Road and the surrounding Skinnergate. My highlights include Angel Bakery which sells delicious homemade treats and newly opened Dolly Mama (vintage clothing) located in the Imperial Quarter of the town.
Credit: Darlington Borough Council
3. Art In the Yards Described as an ‘open air gallery’, public artworks by local sixth form pupils are displayed around the nooks and crannies of Darlington. My personal favourite is the mural panels behind the Civic Theatre. Take a look here for more info on these unique pieces of art.
4. Award winning eateries Jabberwocky Market partner, Voodoo Cafe, was voted the Best Latin restaurant outside London 2012, whilst Cafe Spice was also recognised by the Bangladesh Caterer’s Association in 2013, and there’s even a Michelin starred restaurant in the form of Raby Hunt situated in nearby Summerhouse.
5. The town clock Darlington’s most famous landmark is its town clock, towering above the centre. It is attached to the equally grand Victorian market hall, making it a striking feature for our town.
Credit: The Northern Echo
6. South Park For picturesque tranquility, a stroll around the lake in South Park feeding the geese is ideal. In the summer, ‘Theatre in the park’ brings open-air performances to this beautiful park. It is also home to a rose garden, orchard, skate park and a bird sanctuary.
7. Darlington’s gay scene The town was the first place in the UK to allow same sex civil partnerships, and this tradition of inclusiveness and tolerance is mirrored in the very popular gay night which takes place on Monday nights, culminating with the annual gay pride festival.
8. Darlington Heritage Trail This 2 hour self-guided walking tour of Darlington’s Heritage sites takes in 79 (!) of the town’s architectural landmarks, sculptures and notable stores. Follow the trail here
9. The legacy of rail Darlington is the birthplace of the railway, offering the world’s first steam-worked public train line. This heritage endures through the great Head of Steam museum and the big train monument (pictured above), created in 1997 by renowned artist, David Mach.
10. Darlington Arts Festival Borne from the shared passion and creative spirit of the members of Darlington for Culture, the now annual Darlington Arts festival is coming back in May and I am looking forward to a taste of what can beat last year’s brilliant Art Lending Library. In its third year, the festival runs from mid-april to the end of May, for details of its lineup visit darlington for culture.
What do you think? What’s your favourite thing about our remarkable town? Tell us in the comments, or send us a message.