“MUMMY, is it a real?” a little boy sitting next to me whispers in wonder as a Viking longboat emerges from the water in the half light of the dusky evening.
I am asking myself the same question as I sit in the audience of Kynren – a spellbinding outdoor production set on a 7.5-acre stage in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.
Kynren is a spellbinding outdoor production set on a 7.5-acre stage in Bishop Auckland, County Durham[/caption]
History was never my strong point at school but I find myself totally transfixed as epic scene after epic scene unfolds, telling the dramatic story of England over the past 2,000 years with actors in amazing costumes and animals ranging from horses to geese and sheep.
The show is narrated by Arthur, a ten-year-old boy from a mining family, who travels back in time through the most significant events of English history and legend.
In a visual feast, the technically brilliant production takes in Boudica, the Vikings, King Arthur, Queen Victoria and Shakespeare.
It also features both World Wars, the Industrial Revolution and Henry VIII.
History was never my strong point at school but I found myself totally transfixed as epic scene after epic scene unfolds[/caption]
Kynren is now among the top five live experiences in the country according to TripAdvisor and more people than ever before are booking for the new production because of a surge in the popularity of fantasy shows such as Game Of Thrones and The Last Kingdom.
And with its high-quality cinematic scenes of large-scale battles and colourful royal pageants it is easy to see why.
It feels just as well produced as any blockbuster historical or fantasy drama on HBO or Netflix.
As the show, presented by charity Eleven Arches, is in full flow I suddenly notice a bloke sitting near to me has tears running down his face.
He’s a stocky guy in his 40s and is openly blubbing at Kynren’s depiction of a mining disaster, which features a series of explosions the audience can feel vibrating through their seats.
As relatives of the victims embrace in the aftermath I understand why he is so moved and feel on the edge of crying myself.
It seems to be an emotional experience for the entire audience and there are bursts of cheers, clapping and laughter, especially from children when a flock of sheep unexpectedly races across the stage, throughout the whole performance.
Kynren is now among the top five live experiences in the country according to TripAdvisor[/caption]
Kynren first came to the medieval market town of Bishop, as it’s known to locals, in 2016 but this year the show, which features a 1,000-strong cast and 150 animals, is bigger and better than ever. The actors are mainly volunteers but many are highly trained equestrians and all are dressed in exceptionally realistic costumes.
There are amazing pre-show attractions, which open up three-and-a-half hours before it starts.
New for 2019 is a living, breathing Viking village, complete with a blacksmith forge. I take a wander through it before the show begins, and watch as children spar with Vikings holding shields and weapons.
Over the years the award-winning drama, which is expected to draw 8,000 visitors each evening, has transformed the fortunes of the area, which is now a tourist hotspot.
The actors are mainly volunteers but many are highly trained equestrians and all are dressed in exceptionally realistic costumes[/caption]
Bishop Auckland feels up-and-coming after philanthropist and co-founder of Kynren, Jonathan Ruffer, established the Auckland Project, which is in the process of regenerating the area.
As a result, visitors to the area are able to climb to the top of a new 15ft viewing tower and visit a new gallery, which features work by prominent mining artists.
And if this wasn’t enough, there is also the historic 900-year-old Auckland Castle and the dramatic scenery of nearby Weardale to enjoy.
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Kynren is definitely worth a visit. It’s a unique, dramatic and educational show for both adults and children.
It runs every Saturday from June 29 until September 14 (except August 3) and adult tickets start at £25.
There is £10 off the price for children aged four to 17, and kids up to three go free.
Expect amazing costumes and animals ranging from horses to geese and sheep[/caption]
It’s a unique, dramatic and educational show for both adults and children[/caption]