Find out what life is really like at Durham University

Durham of course in normal times, I’m talking pre-pandemic here, offers the opportunity for those legally aged to drink in bars and go to clubs in the city, but this blog is for those who are under 18, having a night off, or just don’t want to drink, there are plenty of other options available for you. Another stereotype I aim to tackle here is the idea that because Durham is smaller than other university cities around the UK it might be ‘boring’ at night – which is definitely not the case!

Food food food!

First and foremost, an issue very close to my heart: what food is available in Durham? Of course, I am talking pre-pandemic again here but Durham is home to a huge number of different dining experiences, which can provide a great night out with company. When my parents come to visit I love to take them out to eat, and most places offer varying student discounts on food that you should keep an eye out for, especially mid-week. Personal favourites of mine include a restaurant affectionately known ‘Spags’ (Spaghettata on Saddler Street), which sells Italian dishes at great prices for huge portion sizes (plus a free salad bar!), and Lebaneat, a Lebanese restaurant that has some of the best halloumi and falafel wraps I’ve ever tasted!

Clubs and societies

Durham University has a huge number of societies, clubs, groups and troupes, which means that by night there is almost always some kind of student event being run. I’m part of a dance society and my housemate is part of a drama troupe, so between the two of us the rest of the house is swept off their feet trying to keep up with our performances – which this year have all been online, but in future will be back gracing the halls of the local theatres and college stages. A lot of the university drama groups run interesting re-imaginations of more traditional plays which are very insightful to watch and consider. There’s also a number of society social events such as motivational speakers, debates, treasure hunts – many are fancy dress too, which is great fun.

Fancy dress social

Escape Room

Durham Escape Room, which is right in the centre of the city was one of my highlights from Freshers last year, we took part in an escape room and mocktail evening, it proved a fun icebreaker. For people coming to Durham next year, I’d definitely recommend putting it on your to-do list!


The final thing I have to recommend is a specific event that occurs every two years: the Lumiere light Festival, which will hopefully be returning in November 2021. Lumiere is the UK’s largest light festival and brings together creative pieces from artists of all different backgrounds, installed across the historical city to light it up in the most beautiful of ways. The festival runs for four nights and spans not only the city centre but also more niche places which you might not normally explore, for example, the Botanic Gardens, it’s not only to enjoy for that night but also for the future to explore new places.


I hope with this small selection I have demonstrated the wide range of activities Durham has to offer at night and eased any worries you might have had. Durham is a beautiful place with a wealth of opportunities to take advantage of, I hope you are looking forward to exploring the city and creating some of your own favourite places.

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Ruby Tomlinson

Hi, I'm Ruby, a second-year English Literature Student from Van Mildert College. Over lockdown, I've been putting my running shoes on to get out and about around Durham city and the surrounding countryside. The student ambassador team has been working really hard to make video content for you to hear from real students, so please don't be shy: have a look at our vlogs and feel free to get in touch with any questions.
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