Planning has already begun for the 2017 season of Kynren, a blockbuster live outdoor show which aims to “radically change” the fortunes of County Durham.
As well as generating millions in ticket revenue and associated spending from tourists, the production has created an estimated 400-plus jobs.
The first season of Kynren this summer features 14 evening shows, from July 2 until September 17 – and revenues from the 2016 season will fund the 2017 shows.
“Kynren” — related to an Anglo-Saxon word for “family” — is an “epic tale of England” depicting key moments of 2,000 years of English history, from the Romans to the Second World War.
Once the 2016 season has concluded, the team behind Kynren will start recruiting additional volunteers and continue to develop the skills of its current team.
It is produced by charity Eleven Arches, created by philanthropist and investment manager Jonathan Ruffer, whose mission is to help regenerate Bishop Auckland, County Durham and the North East region.
Anne-Isabelle Daulon, chief executive of Eleven Arches, said: “Kynren is already attracting audiences from all over the world – the US, China, New Zealand and South Africa among others, contributing to firmly establish County Durham as a destination of national and international significance.”
Eleven Arches estimates that day trippers spend £19 per day in County Durham, while overnight visitors spend £157 per day.
“The projected offsite expenditure of visitors to Kynren will total £4.75 million a year, and more will be spent at other attractions in County Durham when visitors build a short or long stay around Kynren,” said Eleven Arches in a statement.
“Kynren is therefore a key contributor to create a sustainable visitor destination in Bishop Auckland alongside the exciting development at Auckland Castle.”
Inspired by the Puy du Fou shows in France, Kynren is staged with the help of 1,000 volunteers and has an audience of 8,000 for each performance.
Several of the world’s top performance experts, with numerous Olympic and sporting event ceremonies to their credit, including London 2012, have been involved in the casting and training of the volunteers.
Michelle Gorman, managing director of Visit County Durham, said: “The visitor economy is of enormous value to Durham, with most recent figures showing that the economic value of tourism is worth £752 million to the county.
“The unveiling this summer of exciting new events and attractions including live action show, Kynren – an epic tale of England, and the Open Treasure exhibition experience at Durham Cathedral, also add hugely to the rich cultural experience on offer across the county.”
• An editing error in the July-August’s North East feature attributed the volume and value of tourism to the North East rather than County Durham.