Following last year’s success, the Durham Women’s Gala will return on 8th June 2019 to celebrate women’s contribution to society. Taking place in Wharton Park, the historic home of both the Women’s Gala and the Durham Miners’ Gala, this year’s event will focus on young women and their role in politics as part of the TUC Year of the Young Worker.

The family-friendly event will bring together inclusive, child-friendly activities with live music, food and feminism. Speakers will include the Shadow Attorney General, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Northumbria PCC Vera Baird, and young feminist campaigners from Tyneside to Teesside. Some of the North East’s premier female musical acts will perform for visitors, and entry will once again be free of charge.

Maura McKeon, chair of the Friends of the Durham Women’s Gala and Durham’s youngest County Councillor, said ‘It is vital that a diverse array of voices speaks at all levels of our politics, and young women bring a unique perspective. Frustratingly, we often have to fight harder to be taken seriously. I hope that the Women’s Gala can amplify our voice and shine a light on the formidable women of all ages who are building a better North East.’

The Gala is supported by UNISON, the public-sector trade union and the largest women’s organisation in the UK.

Last year’s event welcomed over 1000 people to Durham City to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage.



Durham Women’s Gala


Durham Womens Gala poster FINAL

This year we celebrate the centenary of (some) women getting the right to vote. In response to the 1918 Representation of the People Act, the mothers of our movement started a programme of mass political education for newly-enfranchised women, including an annual Gala that ran until 1970s and attracted speakers such as Barbara Castle, Nye Bevan and Clement Attlee. To mark the anniversary, the Women’s Gala is returning to its home of Wharton Park as a free, fun day for all to enjoy on Saturday 30th June, 10.30am-16.00pm.

Like the Women’s Gala events of yesteryear, we will have high-profile female speakers including

Chi Onwurah MP,
Clare Williams,
Vera Baird,
Roberta Blackman-Woods MP,
Liz Twist MP,
Helen Goodman MP,
Sharon Hodgson MP and
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP.

We have live music from Ladies of Midnight Blue, an all-woman brass/afrobeat fusion duo with a focus on social justice, and the Mums in Durham Choir, who found fame on BBC2’s The Choir: Gareth’s Best in Britain.

Expect a day of family fun including mini-golf, mini-cars and football games provided by the Foundation of Light. The Brownies will teach kids how to make solidarity bracelets and mini-Suffragette banners, and families are invited to attend a banner-blessing with feminist vicars in St Cuthbert’s Church after the speeches. You can learn more about the history of the Gala and Labour women’s activism in the North East through our heritage trail and quiz.

Street food vendors from across the North East will provide a range of refreshment from gluten-free, vegan crepes to pizza, Armenian lavash flatbread and chips. There will be a fully-licensed bar selling local tipples including Durham Gin, and Hill Island Brewery have even brewed a special beer for the day.

Women’s organisations and not-for-profits, including Trade Unions, will have the opportunity to organise, recruit and fundraise. There will also be space for voter registration, and we’re teaming up with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust to help the NHS celebrate its 70th birthday.

For more information like us on Facebook, or RSVP to our event.

The Women’s Gala is generously supported by UNISON, the Labour Party NEC development fund, Durham County Council, and women across the North East.

Durham Women’s Gala – Food stalls

The Women’s Gala will have an exciting and diverse array of street food vendors from across the region. Inspired by Durham’s growing street food scene, we have old favourites and new vendors, all serving fresh food with locally-sourced ingredients. Our vendors cater for all dietary requirements including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and nut free. There will truly be something for everyone.

Flip ’n’ Fast Crêpes

Flip n Fast CrepesBased in Tyneside, Anna Hunter and her crêpe van travel across the country to events and food festivals. Her ‘crepe manifesto’ vows to work with fresh local, ethical and sustainably-sourced seasonal produce. With a signature batter free from dairy, gluten and eggs, she can cater for any dietary requirement, just let her know. You can read more about her menu here.

The Armenian Family Street Bar

Armenian Family Street Bar

This family-run food bar brings authentic Armenian and Georgian street food to the North East. They fill hand-made, hand-baked lavash flat breads with a range of fillings including chicken, halloumi and vegan-friendly marinated vegetables. Although they are based in County Durham, they are a stalwart of Tynemouth market and will soon open a café in Felling, Gateshead. Follow them on Facebook here.

Scream for Pizza

Scream for Pizza

Trained at the celebrated La Notizia Pizzeria in Naples, Alex and Vicky are pros at making traditional Neapolitan pizza. The Newcastle-based duo tour the region in Goldie, a former French army ambulance, delivering their unique take on an old classic and fusing flavours from across the world. You can see their pizzas here.

Beedle’s Fish and Chip Van

Beedles fish and chips van

Sometimes you just need chips. This van brings Bishop Auckland’s famous chippy to the streets with their full array of traditional deep-fried fare. After being recognised as the best chippy in the region and one of the top 10 in the country by the National Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Awards, they have won numerous awards for service to their community. You can see their menu here.


Our fully-stocked bar will serve a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks all afternoon. Using local producers from Durham Gin to Hill Island Brewery, you can find something to your taste. Hill Island are so excited about the Women’s Gala, they’re brewing a special one-off beer in our honour! We will operate a Challenge 24 policy, and no alcohol will be sold without valid ID.

Wharton Park Café will be open as normal selling coffee, cakes and sandwiches, with ice cream provided by Tony and his van.

Musical line up for the Durham Women’s Gala on Sat 30 June 2018

Musical Line-Up

We are thrilled to announce our all-female musical line-up for the Durham Women’s Gala. We wanted to celebrate the diverse range of grassroots female musicians in the North East, and empower our audience through their music. Both our acts are based in the region, and although they differ in style, they are united in their focus on community.

Ladies of Midnight Blue

ladies-of-the-midnight-blueOur stage will open at 12pm with the Ladies of Midnight Blue. Hannabielle Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel are an Afro-Latin percussion and brass duet based in Newcastle. They fuse percussion, brass and vocals to create powerful and upbeat music with strong focuses on social justice, empowerment and audience participation, a fitting act to celebrate 100 years of women’s participation in democracy. In addition to their work in the North East, they travel across the world performing at festivals, protests and marches. When they are not performing, they deliver art and music workshops to disadvantaged young people, building communities and raising concerns about inequality.

you can learn more about them here   

Mums in Durham Choir

Mums in Durham

Our county’s very own Mums in Durham Choir will lead us in anthems of female empowerment. Starting out in Bearpark Community Centre, this group of Durham mums originally intended to have a ‘sing and a giggle’, but ended up winning national fame on BBC2’s The Choir: Gareth’s Best in Britain with Gareth Malone.

You can see the Mums in Durham performing the Spice Girls hit ‘Who Do You Think You are’ here.

We hope you will join us in Wharton Park on Saturday 30th June 2018 and listen to these fantastic women.

We will be in Durham Market Place Sat 26 May

We’ve got a market stall next Saturday 26 May in Durham Market Place 9am- 4pm to promote the Durham Womens Gala. Please come along and say hi if you’re in Durham. We’ll be dressed up as suffragettes so will welcome any support!

We’ll be selling raffle tickets(£1) and Votes for Women sashes (£4) to raise money to pay for the children’s activity materials – mini banners, Heritage Trail, suffragette friendship bracelets and broaches.

Increasing democracy for young women with the Labour Party NEC Development Fund

We are extremely grateful to the Labour Party NEC Development Fund 2018 members for a very generous donation of £3,000 towards Durham Women’s Gala.  

The money is granted is from the Diversity and Democracy category of the NEC fund. Our aim is to encourage two specific groups of disenfranchised young women to register to vote and become involved in the Labour and Trade Union movement wherever possible. The groups we will be working with are young care leavers and women from minority ethnic groups.

Thanks to this donation we are developing an effective educational resource to use at the Durham Women’s Gala on Sat 30 March. It is our intention to leave a legacy of resources that will be used after the event.

We would like to thank the County Durham MPs, Labour MEPs and the leader of Durham County Council who supported our application.

The Friends of the Women’s Gala Ltd would like to thank you all for a major boost to our 2018 Durham Women’s Gala celebrating 100 years of votes for women.Votes_For_Women poster suffragette