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What to Expect on the Day

Graduate in academic dress posing for a photo

Information on the arrangements for attending Summer Congregation 2023 are published below.

This Attendance Information provides a printable version of the important details for students and guests. (This document is also accessible for students from the Congregation and Parchment Registration system).

You can also watch our short graduation guide on how to prepare and make the most of your special day!

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Venue, Travel and Parking

Congregation ceremonies are held in Durham Cathedral with related activities taking place around Palace Green, the area between the Cathedral and Castle. The Congregation Fair is located in the marquee for graduands and guests to visit before and after the ceremony.

  • Graduands must arrive at least 2 hours before the time of their ceremony and bring their campus card if they have one to assist with registration on the day. If graduands are not ready on time they will be excluded from the ceremony.
  • Guests will be directed to enter the Cathedral from approximately 45 minutes before the ceremony start time and should take advantage the facilities at the Congregation Fair beforehand.

View the map and directions to Durham.

Allow plenty of time for arrival, remembering that Durham city centre will be busy on Congregation days. Graduands and guests are advised to use the various car parks situated around Durham, including Durham's Park and Ride service, and the metered on-street parking which is available all over the city.

Please note that there is no public parking on Palace Green although graduands and guests with mobility issues can be dropped off by car or taxi at the bottom of Owengate (the road that leads up to Palace Green).

Note that Palace Green lies within the city congestion charge zone.

Congregation Information Point

A Congregation Information Point will be located on Palace Green outside of the Music Building for general enquiries.

Guest Tickets

View information on how to collect guest tickets.

The Ceremony Day

  • Graduands collect robes from the Pemberton Building and register their attendance. Due to limited capacity, only graduands are allowed access to the robing area.
  • Guests or graduands collect tickets from the Guest Ticket desk in the marquee.
  • Graduands give tickets and belongings to guests before going to the Great Hall.
  • Graduands MUST report to the Great Hall of University College (Durham Castle) 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to the ceremony to be put into procession order. The gate will be closed 1 hour prior to the ceremony, so any Graduands not in the Great Hall by this time will be excluded from the procession. 
  • Guests, with tickets, will be directed into the Cathedral from the Information Point approximately 45 minutes before the ceremony start time to be seated separately from graduands.
  • Graduands process from the Great Hall to the Cathedral approximately 30 minutes before the ceremony.
  • On entering the Cathedral, graduands will be seated in order. Names will be checked multiple times as it is vital that graduands remain in order for the ceremony.
  • During the ceremony graduands will be called to the stage individually, pausing in front of the Presiding Officer to shake their hand.
  • The ceremony lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • The use of cameras and recording devices is not permitted during ceremonies, and flash photography is not allowed within the Cathedral.
  • Ceremonies are professionally filmed and photographed with USBs/photos available to purchase afterwards.
  • Ceremonies will also be streamed live on the Ceremonies website and to the Assembly Rooms Theatre, which is open to guests without tickets.
  • After the ceremony, graduates and guests can enjoy the facilities in the Congregation Fair in the marquee.
  • Graduates must return robes to the Pemberton Building before 6:00pm on the day of the ceremony.

Guest Entrance Information

Entrance to the Cathedral will only be allowed from 45 minutes before the ceremony start time. Guests arriving before the entrance time are advised to wait in the marquee as there is no shelter outside the Cathedral for guests to wait and it can be cold, even in Summer.

Guests will be directed from the Information Point on Palace Green to the Galilee Chapel entrance before being guided into the main body of the Cathedral. Guests may have to wait at the Galilee Chapel for a short period until the venue is ready. Guests must show tickets to be allowed entrance to the Cathedral.

On entering the main body of the Cathedral, guests will be guided by University marshals to fill all seats from the front to the back, in the Nave and then in the Side Aisles. Guests wishing to sit together must arrive together. Each student is allocated up to 2 guaranteed tickets and may obtain 1 additional ticket during registration, dependant on availability. The view in some areas is restricted due to the Cathedral architecture however television monitors are installed throughout the Cathedral to enhance the viewing of the ceremony.

Please note: seating in the Nave is on a first come first served basis and there are around 500 seats available in this area. Once these are full, guests will be seated in the Side Aisles with a restricted view.

Graduands and Guests with Special Requirements

View information for graduands and guests with special arrangements for the ceremony.

Guests with Children

The ceremony is a formal occasion and can involve a lot of waiting around. Disruptions by small children can disturb the graduands and their guests. Please consider this before bringing a small child along. Tickets are required for children over the age of 2 as they will require their own seat, children under 2 can sit on a guest’s lap. Pushchairs can be accommodated inside the Cathedral but must not block the aisles.

Children and babies cannot be seated with the graduand, they must be seated with an adult guest in the guest section of the Cathedral. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult, in compliance with our Safeguarding policy Safeguarding Children - Durham University

The ceremony will also be streamed live to the Assembly Rooms (located on the Bailey) which may be more comfortable for guests with small children, but please note all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Personal Belongings

Graduands are advised to keep personal belongings to a minimum which should be left with guests prior to the ceremony.

Please do not bring any large handbags/rucksacks or luggage as they are not permitted inside the Cathedral and cannot be left unattended. You may be subjected to a bag search on entry to the Cathedral. There will be a supervised luggage drop in PG28 (next to the Police Office) for graduands and guests to use during the ceremony. Please leave your luggage here before attempting to enter the Cathedral. Please note, although this is a supervised area, luggage is left at the owner's risk. And this area is for large bags and luggage only, it is not a cloakroom and there is no facility to hang coats.

Congregation Fair

The following activities are located in the marquee for graduands and guests to enjoy before and after the ceremony:

  • Refreshments – University Catering will supply food and refreshments for sale throughout the day with a selection of celebratory drinks, hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, cakes and snacks.
  • Dunelm alumni – Come and see the Dunelm alumni team at the Congregation Fair. Find out about the Dunelm alumni community and how Durham can continue to support you as you go out into the world. We have alumni events around the world so you can make new connections across the community as well as meeting up with your Durham friends. You can access benefits such as a dunelm.org.uk email address, continued access to online journals through JSTOR, and career support. Visit us at the fair to collect your ‘I bagged a Durham degree’ bag-for-life and your commemorative 'Class of' graduation pin. Find out more about Durham's alumni community.
  • Official Merchandise – A wide range of official Durham University merchandise will be available in the Congregation Fair, selling everything from clothing to our bestselling graduation bear, helping you to commemorate your time here. Our full range of merchandise is available at https://shop.dur.ac.uk/.
  • Your Graduation Ceremony, available on DVD, Digital Download or Personalised Social Media Clip - Galaxy Video will be filming live in Durham Cathedral, and your graduation ceremony will be available to purchase on the day. Supplied on a range of media, choices include: USB key, DVD, Digital Download or as a personalised clip which is perfect for social media. Order online today at www.mygraduationfilm.com and don’t miss this opportunity to capture your big moment centre stage. 
  • Photographs - Ede and Ravenscroft photography studios are available to take images of graduands and guests either before or after ceremonies. Ede and Ravenscroft photography will also capture each graduand on stage with the Presiding Officer during the ceremony and these images will be available to view, purchase and take home on the day from the Photography Sales Desk after the ceremony. Photography packages can be pre-ordered online by 19 June or ordered on the day: https://graduation-services.edeandravenscroft.com/graduation/index/ 

Please note, where possible, we would prefer contactless methods of payment.

Lost Property

Lost property will be held at the Police Office on Palace Green. If the office is closed, please ask a member of Security staff on Palace Green.

Dress Code

Graduands must hire graduation robes by 19 June 2024. Information on robe hire and what to wear on the day can be found on the Ordering Your Robes page.

Graduands and guests are advised to dress appropriately for the weather as they will be outside at certain times of the day and it can be cold inside the Cathedral, even in Summer.

Guests are recommended to dress smartly but without hats which can restrict the view for other guests.

Other Activities

Find out what celebration events your college and department are holding during Congregation and view What's On around the University, and discover other attractions to visit during your time in Durham.

Last updated: 15 April 2024