The Durham Miners Gala will return this year, organisers have confirmed.
Hosted by the Durham Miners Association (DMA) since 1871, the Gala was cancelled for the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The DMA has been working with the local authority, police and other partners to confirm arrangements for the safe return of the event, which is attended by more than 200,000 people from across the region and beyond. It now confirms that The Big Meeting, as it is popularly known, will return on Saturday 9 July 2022.
The DMA announced last year that the returning Gala will be dedicated to key workers.
Carers and bus drivers, delivery workers and nurses, shop staff and teachers, everyone who has risked their lives to keep society functioning throughout the pandemic will be celebrated.
Between now and the Gala, the DMA will work with trades union branches across the country to bring people into Durham, and is calling on the public to gather in greater numbers than ever before in support of the country’s key workers.
DMA Secretary Alan Mardghum said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm that the Gala will return in 2022. We know it has been sorely missed. For many it truly is the highlight of the year. The Gala has been at the heart of the cultural life of the people of the Durham coalfield area for more than 150 years.
“The Gala has also been a rallying point to fight for social justice throughout its long history. We dedicate this year’s Gala to the workers of this country. As the pandemic made so clear, it is they our society truly needs. Our key workers will be centre stage, and I urge everyone to join us in Durham in a massive demonstration of our support.”
Before the pandemic, only two world wars and two national strikes had stopped the Gala marching on.
In its absence, new digital content including a live streamed event brought the sights and sounds of the Gala to more than one million people online. Last year, in the 150th anniversary of the first event, more than a dozen communities across the region hosted ‘little big meetings’, bringing people together in the spirit of the Gala.
The streets of Durham will be packed again in July as people march colliery banners to sound of brass brand music.
Also returning is the hugely popular Miners Festival Service at Durham Cathedral which has been part of every Gala since 1897. The service, in celebration of Durham’s mining heritage and its communities of today, features brass band music and the blessing of new banners taking part in the Gala for the first time.
The costs of hosting the Gala rise every year, but organisers are facing a huge increase in 2022. Bumper crowds are expected, safety and stewarding costs are rising and inflation has hit infrastructure costs.
Everyone who values The Big Meeting is urged to chip in.
For more than a century, the Gala was funded by the working miners of the Durham coalfield. Following the closure of the collieries it is funded by donation and subscription through the Friends of Durham Miners Gala (FODMG).
Those who contribute are known as ‘Marras’, a Durham miners’ term for a friend who can be relied on in times of need.
FODMG chair Dave Anderson said: “The Gala is a unique and inspiring spectacle. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world and it happens in Durham.
“Whether you enjoy the sights and sounds and atmosphere of the Big Meeting, share its values of solidarity and community, or value the contribution it makes to the local economy, I urge you – please sign up, become a Marra, and help ensure this wonderful day continues to survive and thrive.”
To support the Gala, click here.