Visiting Kynren – an epic tale of England should be on your bucket list. This must-see show brings 2000 years of British history to life.
If you haven’t heard of Kynren – an epic tale of England, where have you been? Now in its third year, this epic outdoor show is a talking point in the North East. We have been wanting to go and see it since it began. Recently, thanks to a win, we were able to experience the show for ourselves. It really is an amazing experience. If you have been wondering about going hopefully this will help you make up your mind.
What is Kynren?
Kynren is a live action outdoor show like no other. Think Hollywood blockbuster and you will be on the right lines. The story is told through the eyes of a young boy, Arthur. He travels back in time to find the ‘story of us’. You are swept up in the history of England from the Roman times to the Industrial Revolution into modern day. With a cast of over 1000, including animals and amazing pyrotechnic effects it is like nothing else you have ever seen.
Behind the stage is the stunning backdrop of Auckland Castle in Country Durham which adds to the sense of history. As the sun goes down the stage becomes really atmospheric with the lights in the chapel shining down. This is part of what makes Kynren so special, no two performances will ever look the same.
The audience sits in an 8000 seat amphitheatre or Tribune which gives a great vantage point of the show. There are amazing things happening in every direction and it is really hard to know where to look. Every member of the audience will notice different things at different times. The show really is spellbinding. The theme for this year is “In Remembrance” and two important centenaries are shown, the World War I Armistice and Votes for Women.
Where is Kynren?
You will find the Kynren site a few minutes outside Bishop Auckland. It took us around forty minutes to get there from Newcastle. The site is purpose-built and can be seen from a bridge as you drive through the town.
Kynren is put together by Eleven Arches, which is one of two charities that aim to establish Bishop Auckland as an international tourist destination. As you enter the Kynren site you will see the eleven arches of the Bishop Auckland viaduct behind you, which is where the charity name comes from. The cast and helpers are volunteers given the name Archers.
Parking at Kynren
If you are planning on taking your car to Kynren you need to purchase your parking ticket when you get your show tickets. There are over 2000 parking spaces available, most are on the show site. There are also four off-site car parks around Bishop Auckland identified as C, E, F and H. These cost £7 and you also need to pay extra for the shuttle bus service.
We chose car park H as it is meant to be the flattest. The shuttle bus service is really excellent. When the show finishes you know which bus to go to because the volunteers hold coloured lights. A different colour for every car park. The buses got us back to the car park in around 20 minutes. Considering the large number of people leaving Kynren at the same time this is really efficient.
From the bus stop, there is a short walk to the Kynren site. It is downhill and the path is mainly smooth. This is uphill on the way back and dark. If you then have to walk to find your car on the main site it could take a while. The shuttle bus service is the best option.
Souvenirs and the food court at Kynren
Souvenirs are easily available at Kynren. There is a small gift cabin as you enter the site. There is also a larger gift shop with a bigger selection as you walk down to the site. Before the show begins you can also get souvenirs from sellers on the main stage. The union jack flags are a cheap buy and kids will love them.
There are plenty of food and drink stalls available in the food court at Kynren. The food is quite expensive. Cod and chips are £9, a bag of chips is £3. You can’t take food inside the tribune so you need to eat it before you go in. You can’t bring your own food either. It might be worth eating in Bishop Auckland before the show or having a big meal before you leave home. You could also bring a picnic and eat it in the car when you park.
There is not much seating available so don’t get there too early. I would advise arriving around an hour before the show time.
Visiting the animals
If you walk to the far end of the Tribune you can view the blacksmiths demonstrating their craft. They are very knowledgeable and it is really interesting to watch the different things they make.
You also get the chance to walk around and meet some of the different animals who star in the show. I knew there were horses but I wasn’t expecting to see sheep, goats and geese. It is definitely worth a look. The animals seem to love the attention.
What to expect from the Kynren
Prepare yourself to experience a live action show like nothing you have ever seen before. From the moment it starts you will be captivated while the history of our region unfolds before your eyes. Watch Viking invasions, King Harold, to Henry VIII, Shakespeare to the industrial revolution and into modern times.
The show is spectacular with a powerful soundtrack and amazing special effects. Watch Viking longships coming out of the mist and buildings rise from the water. The lake is a specially built hydraulic lake. Hoards of soldiers with weapons and horses surge over the bridges and hills into battle. Flaming arrows rise into the air.
Not only people but animals star in the show. Scores of scores of sheep, geese, cows and horses take part in the dance scenes. They seem to love it and watching flocks of sheep and geese waddle past adds a whole new dimension to the show. It is a fabulous celebration of English pride ending in a burst of fireworks and a rousing rendition of Land of Hope and Glory.
The show is amazing and if you haven’t seen it, book now before it ends for the year.
What does Kynren mean?
The name Kynren is an echo of the Anglo Saxon word ‘cynren’ which means generation, kin or family. It is an apt name considering the plan is to bring together generations of families to experience how their ancestors lived.
Tickets and seats
Kynren runs over the summer from the end of June till midway through September. The show takes place on Friday and Saturday nights.
Kynren tickets are banded. Diamond seats are in the centre of the Tribune and are padded. The other bands move gradually from the centre to the edges.
- Diamond (adults £59; children aged 12-15 £53 and those aged four to 11 ££42)
- Platinum (£47, £42, £35),
- Silver (£32, £24, £16)
- Bronze (£25, £18.75; £12.50).
Children of three or under are free if seated on an adults knee.
Tips for visiting Kynren
Kynren is an outdoor performance and the seats have no protection from rain. Hopefully, the weather will be dry but if not the show will go on. Take a coat and something to protect you from the weather. Umbrellas are not allowed as they will interfere with the view of the performance. You can buy plastic ponchos at the show or plan ahead and bring them with you.
It may be a lovely day when you go to Kynren but the performance ends as the sun goes down. The night does get chilly so make sure you have plenty of layers to keep you warm.
Wear sensible footwear. It is a fifteen-minute walk to the site from the drop off point.
You need to be seated for the show fifteen minutes before it starts. Use the toilet before the show. The performance lasts for ninety minutes with no interval and you will not want to miss a thing. The toilets are clean.
The seats at Kynren are hard. It is worth bringing a cushion with you. These need to be inside clear plastic bags.
Check what you are allowed to bring before you get there. Large rucksacks and bags are not allowed on site. You don’t want to have to go back to your car with something you can’t take in.
Enjoy the show. It is a spectacular performance and we are already planning to go back next year.
Have you been to Kynren? What did you think? Let me know below.
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