Heading to Fire and Ice in Durham 2020 this week? Then read this before you go (AD)

* Collaborative post with Durham BID

My Boys Club is a big fan of Fire&Ice InDurham. Over the past few years, we’ve visited and enjoyed the various sculpture trails, discovering the wonderful characters along the way, attempted ice carving, watched the experts do it much better, and tried (in vain) to free the chocolate from the ice block. In fact, in 2019 my blog post on Fire&Ice InDurham was the most read blog post on My Boys Club of the whole year.

This year we are working with the organisers Durham BID to ensure that you know everything you need to know ahead of the event itself.

fire and ice in durham 2020

Heading to Fire and Ice in Durham 2020 this week? 

Then read this before you go ...

What is Fire & Ice in Durham?
Fire&Ice InDurham, now in its fifth year, is a stunning and spectacular FREE event from Durham BID, that sees Durham City come to life, with an ice sculpture trail lit by flaming beacons weaving its way through the historic streets of Durham. This year’s theme is time travel and despite wet and windy weather threatening to dampen spirits, hopefully, this year’s event will see the largest installations of this ambitious festival yet. 

fire and ice in durham 2020

Will the stormy weather affect Fire & Ice in Durham?

At the time of writing Durham BID is planning for the outdoor event to go ahead. The talented sculptors are used to getting wet when working. They may have to make changes to the running order on the day, but they currently intend for the ice sculptures, live carvings, have a go carving walls and chocolate blocks to be in the City from 10am on both Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd February.

If in the unlikely event a danger to life warning is issued by the Met Office, then Durham BID will act appropriately. However, there are parameters within which it is more than safe to visit Durham and they would not dissuade anyone for coming to the City when it is safe to do so. The forecast can change quickly and so I suggest that you do though check the local forecast and event Facebook page before travelling.

Why is the weather a problem?

The elements naturally erode the ice. As the sculptures are made of ice, they are susceptible to erosion from the elements and so Durham BID can’t give a time by which they will be removed or melted. 

Last year the weather felt (fairly) tropical. Nearly T-shirt weather in February and therefore slightly warmer than it should have been meaning the sculptures melted quicker; the previous year it wasn’t the sun but the wind that melted the sculptures. This year who knows. 

There are many people across the UK suffering due to Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, but  Durham City hasn’t been affected as much as some other places so Fire & Ice is planned to go ahead as normal on Friday 21 and Friday 22 February in 2020. 

However, Durham BID is very mindful that visitors will be watching the weather forecast as they plan their visit to the medieval city whose historic streets and iconic buildings will welcome the ice sculptures.

Durham BID is unable to control the Great British weather (just imagine if they could!) The current forecast, albeit changeable, is strong winds and heavy rain on Friday and strong winds light rain showers on Saturday. Keep an eye out for updates throughout the course of the festival on the Durham BID Facebook Page. 

Here are some of the sculptures we found from 2017 ...

fire and ice in durham 2020

What is this year’s theme?

This year's theme is . . . "TRAVELING THROUGH TIME" so be prepared to be thrown back to prehistoric times and then fly all the way to the future!

What will I find at Fire & Ice in Durham 2020?

The Durham fire and ice festival will be two fun-packed days this week, coming at the end of February half-term school holidays, with an ice sculpture trail lit by flaming beacons across the City, and the opportunity for visitors to watch live ice carving demonstrations and give the art-form ago too, all under the watchful eye of master ice carvers from Glacial Arts, who worked on the set of smash TV series, Game of Thrones. 

Each evening of the event, the festivities culminate in a spectacular grand finale in the Market Place with jets of water and shooting flames dancing in time to music, fitting to the theme of the year’s festival.

What will I see at Fire & Ice in Durham?

Sculptures will include a DeLorean time machine inspired by the cult classic ‘Back to the Future’, and a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket will be the signature piece of the festival. 

With a line-up of 11 sculptures in total positioned throughout the City with the trail lit by flaming beacons, alongside the DeLorean and Stephenson’s Rocket will be a replica of the northern aspect of Durham Cathedral, a working Steam Punk Timepiece and a Viking Longship, as well as returning favourites such as the chocolate block and Have-a-go-Wall.

The sculptures are fresh each day and so if you feel as though you missed something on Friday, come back on Saturday. Remember, the earlier you come the better the sculptures will be.

Where can I see the sculptures in Durham City?

1. T-Rex - North Road
2. Steampunk Timepiece - Framwelgate Bridge 
3. The DeLorean – Riverwalk
4. Viking Longship - Framwelgate Bridge
5. Miner (Miners’ Gala) – Market Place
6. The Tardis – Millennium Place
7. Miners’ Lamp – Market Place
8. Stephenson’s Rocket – Prince Bishop Shopping Centre
9. Astronaut – Elvet Bridge
10. Durham Cathedral – Palace Green
11. Eye of Agamotto – Cloisters at Durham Cathedral

An official map of all the ice sculptures for Fire & Ice in Durham is available in Durham from event stewards, or from the Town Hall, Palace Green Library, World Heritage Centre, Clayport Library, Gala Theatre, and various businesses in the City. 

Some sculptures will be more susceptible to the effects of the wind than others, simply due to their location. Though the organiser tries to provide as much protection as possible, it is impossible to shield all the sculptures using the buildings of the City and still have a trail. If you are desperate to see the Viking Longship, (number four on the trail map) or the Astronaut, (number nine), make sure you head to Framwelgate Bridge and Elvet Bridge first. 

fire and ice in durham 2020

What is the best time to go to Fire and Ice?

The ice sculptures are unveiled at 10 am on Friday 21 February and Saturday 22 February. Obviously, the sculptures are open to the elements, so they’re in the best condition in the morning, as the rate at which they melt varies massively upon the weather. However, there is plenty to do right up until the Grand Finale.

What can I do at Fire and Ice in Durham?

  1. Wander around the city's medieval streets to see the eleven different carefully hand-carved ice sculptures.
  2. Watch the live ice carving demonstrations. The boys have been engrossed with this in previous years and we had to keep going back to see how the ice sculptor was getting on! The demonstrations take place between 12noon & 4pm in Market Place.
  3. ‘Have a go’ and get involved too. There are blocks of ice to try out ice-carving yourself. Have-a-go carving in Millennium Place between 12noon – 5.00pm just like my eldest did last year.
  4. See if you can carve the ice to free the chocolate from the frozen block – a firm favourite with the boys

fire and ice in durham 2020

fire and ice in durham 2020

Is there a Grand Finale to Fire and Ice?

Each evening in the Market Place the festival will end with a spectacular grand finale - a mesmerising 30min multimedia show featuring music, fire, dancing waters, lighting and projection the show - in the Market Place outside of St Nicholas’ Church.

5.00pm - 5.15pm Fire performer in Market Place
5.15pm - 5.25pm Night Time Spectacular in Market Place - a shorter performance more suitable for younger children.
5.45pm - 5.55pm Fire performer in Market Place
6.00pm - 6.15pm Night Time Spectacular in Market Place – this second show that is more suitable for adults and older children - as some effects used may be frightening to younger ones.
6.15pm - Fire&Ice InDurham closes

fire and ice in durham 2020

fire and ice in durham 2020

fire and ice in durham 2020

Durham BID will be monitoring the winds during the day and keeping a close eye on the weather forecast. If there is a risk that too much water may be blown out of the pond used in the finale then they will use their social media pages to inform visitors to the City of any cancellation. 

A final decision will be made at 2pm. Regardless of whether the grand finale is going ahead or not, Durham BID will make an announcement to update visitors to the City so they know what’s going on, and how the event will conclude for the day in the face of adverse weather conditions.

fire and ice in durham 2020

How do I get to Fire and Ice in Durham?

Durham City is served by three Park and Ride sites on the key routes into the city. These are situated at Belmont, Sniperley and Howlands. A direct bus service runs every 10 minutes to the city centre from each site. For only £2 per person, you can park until 7.00pm, get unlimited travel on the park and ride buses for the day and even use the Cathedral Bus for free. Under 16s are free if they're accompanied by an adult over 21. The Park and Ride services are free after 9.30am on Friday and all day Saturday for concessionary bus pass holders. 

More information about the Durham City Park & Ride

There is also a train station with regular services to Newcastle, Chester le Street and Darlington. There are regular buses and plenty of city-centre parking too such as Prince Bishops, Riverwalk Car Park 1, Riverwalk Car Park 2, Walkergate Car Park and numerous other car parking spaces in the City. 

Here are some of the ice sculptures from 2018

fire & ice in durham 2020

What should I wear to Fire & Ice in Durham 2020?

Wrap up warm, bundled up against the wind and enjoy the City and everything it has to offer. Take the ice trail around the City and then go for a bite to eat, go to the cinema, go explore Open Treasure at The Cathedral, walk along the river or treat yourselves in the shops. There is so much to see and do in the City don’t let a little bit of rain put you off enjoying the largest annual draw to Durham. 

Is this event dog-friendly? 

Yes, the event is dog-friendly. The event is throughout Durham City Centre so feel free to take your furry friends along. It is advisable that you keep them on a close leash though as the City will be busy. 

Here are some of the ice sculptures we found on the trail last year ...

fire and ice in durham 2020

Is this event pushchair/wheelchair accessible? 

Fire & Ice In Durham is an event that is completely free to attend as it is hosted on the streets of the beautiful medieval City. Some of the areas are cobbled and on a gradient and so as much as all areas are accessible to pushchair and wheelchair users, please do take care.

For all the up to date information make sure to check out the Durham BID Facebook page and the Fire & Ice Travelling Through Time event page on Facebook

Deb x

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