This weekend will mark the opening show of the North East’s outdoor spectacular known as Kynren, in its second year, on a 17 show run throughout the summer. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to head up to Bishop Auckland, for the final dress rehearsal with two of the boys to experience Kynren in all its dazzling glory.
Kynren comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “cynren” meaning ‘generation, kin or family’, which describes this show to its core. With a cast and crew of 1500+ local volunteers, spanning multiple generations; sharing the history of our ancestors and generations which have gone before us, all whilst being a feast for the senses for every member of the family. Kynren shares the story of Great Britain’s history in a 1.5 hour spectacular, upon a vast open-air stage complete with it’s own River Wear, starting at sunset and finishing in an eye-widening firework finale.
Having visited the set earlier in the year (you can read about it HERE), I had a good idea of what to expect, but once sunset fell across the rolling hills of the Bishop Auckland countryside, my breathe was well and truly stolen by the wondrous performance that played out before us.
Kynren – The Show
The tale begins with a post WW2 child, Arthur, bemoaning that “nothing ever happens” in his home town of Bishop Auckland – a sentence I’m pretty sure I’ve heard uttered hundreds of times by the boys at home. Through a child’s perspective, it’s easy to see how one dimensional time can be – as far as they’re concerned if there’s nothing going on right this second, then the ground we stand on is rendered boring and lifeless. As Kynren unfolds, it quite literally brings history to life – showing young Arthur (and the audience), the battles, the victories, the joy and the sadness that his home town (and our country) has experienced through time; in essence, he learns what makes it and the people there, what they are today.
But to say Kynren brings the history of England to life would be an understatement – with its epic soundtrack fit for a Hollywood blockbuster, magical lighting and Bellagio-esque water displays, it echoes right through to your heart. My spine tingled, I was covered in goosebumps (not a result of the chilly evening) and I shed a tear – though the snippets of history are short (there’s 2000 years to cram into 90 minutes) they’re no less emotive.
Our Kynren Highlights
While I was moved by the poignance of the collapsing of the local mines with the huge loss of life and the dulcet tones of Winston Churchill echoing during WW2 scenes; I was left feeling empowered by the presence of so many strong women throughout our colourful history – from Boudica’s defiance against the Roman Army to two of our greatest monarchs “Good Queen Bess” and Queen Victoria. I was wowed by the appearance of a steam train during the industrial revolution as a monstrous steam engine chugged along its concealed tracks and moved to tears (again) as “snow” fell, signalling the arrival of Christmas Day on the battle fields of WW1.
The boys were entranced by the spellbinding voyage; witnessing vast Roman armies, Viking invasions complete with the 16m long boat rising from the river and medieval jousting. The dazzling pyrotechnics and shear scale of the production rendered them speechless – unfortunately this effect wore off on the way home!
From dashing knights to waddling geese, the 29 scenes evoked a sense of patriotic pride that not only have I never really felt before, but is perhaps needed in such uncertain national times to warm the soul and ignite community spirit.
If you’re thinking of heading to Kynren, stop thinking and GO! You won’t regret it. Here’s some pointers to make your trip a little better:
- The uncovered grandstand, referred to as The Tribune holds 8000 people, so you’ll be guaranteed an electric atmosphere. To add a touch of comfort and luxury to your experience I would really recommend the Diamond seats – yes, a little more expensive, but well worth it. You get the best view from the centre and the seats are super padded! You can get your tickets right HERE!
- Bear in mind the show starts at sunset and runs for 90 minutes- so wrap up warm and take a blanket to snuggle under.
- Direct trains run from London King’s Cross to Darlington, on the lovely Virgin Trains (I’m used to Southern, so these are like business class for us!). The journey is 2.5 hours but with wifi and a food bar the time whizzes by.
- Premier Inn. I stayed at Darlington Town Centre Premier Inn with the boys in a family room (king bed and two singles) – this cost £87 for the night (prices will vary). It’s brand new, with amazing staff and the restaurant’s perfect for all the family. Handy tip – if the adult purchases the £8.99 “premier breakfast” up to 2x under 16s eat free!
- Hedlam Hall. When I visited earlier in the year, I stayed at Hedlam Hall – a beautiful, country spa hotel. If you’re after a bit of luxury on your stay with easy access to Darlington and Kynren, I couldn’t recommend this stunning location enough!
Still not convinced? Then check this out…
This post was sponsored by Kynren, but all opinions, comments etc are my own.