Rising visitor numbers at cathedrals

29th September 2021

Cathedrals across England are reporting a steep rise in visitor numbers. Here are just a few examples of how they achieving increased footfall.

We’re building back! Cathedrals see rising visitor numbers

Bristol Cathedral smashed all recorded visitor numbers when it hosted Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon artwork – and raised £13,000 for local homelessness charity, St Mungo’s too.

In the 18 days it was on show in Bristol Cathedral, over 65,000 visitors came through the doors. This is more than any other exhibition at Bristol Cathedral in living memory, and almost certainly ever.

Bristol Cathedral, Wells Cathedral and Bath Abbey have teamed up to create the South West Moon Landing event, which will see the seven metre installation, featuring detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, hosted in each of the three locations through the changing seasons from summer, through autumn, finishing at Christmas in Bath Abbey with a range of lunar inspired events at each of the different locations.

The Very Revd Dr Mandy Ford, Dean of Bristol said:

The Museum of the Moon has been such a gift to Bristol Cathedral and the people of Bristol. 

“The installation transformed our building, brought in visitors from around the city and the country, and provoked hundreds of conversations. It was wonderful to see the diversity of those who came through the doors, and to enjoy such a variety of events and music under the Moon.

“We are enormously grateful to Luke for his generosity, which enabled us and our visitors to be generous to others. We look forward to many such projects in the future.”

The Museum of the Moon opened in Bristol Cathedral on 11 August. It will open in Wells Cathedral on 12 October (until 3 November) and finishes in Bath Abbey (19 November – 26 December 2021) and there is a range of lunar inspired events at each of the different locations.

The Museum of the Moon is currently on display in Durham Cathedral until November 11 with a moon-themed programme of events including late night openings, cathedral tours with a twist, star gazing, half term activities and special services of worship. For details and booking explore Durham Cathedral’s What’s On page.

Durham Cathedral - Rising Visitor Numbers at Cathedrals Across England

Luke Jerram’s art installation of planet earth, Gaia, visited Wakefield Cathedral for ten days in August as part of a city wide Earth Festival during which time the cathedral recorded more than 21k visitors and all their events were a sell-out. Over 3,000 new prayers were added to their prayer station and 6,191 candles were lit plus takings in their Cathedral Kitchen doubled compared to the same period in the previous month of July (just after the Government announced an easing of the coronavirus restrictions on Step Four of its roadmap).

Worcester Cathedral has just released early visitor figures that show it welcomed over 20,000 visitors during the month of August when it hosted the reflective memorial, Leaves of the Trees, by artist Peter Walker, designed to help people consider the impact of the pandemic on themselves, their families and their communities.

Worcester has also just hosted SPACE VOYAGE, an immersive sound and light installation created by the artistic collaboration, Luxmuralis which transformed the interior of the cathedral to take visitors on a journey through space and beyond.

Stephen Edwards, residentiary canon of Worcester Cathedral, said:

“Projects like this are very exciting and important for the Cathedral as they allow visitors to experience our magnificent building in the evening, and in a different way.

“We are always keen to show off the diversity of our stunning building, attract new visitors and allow people the opportunity to experience the Cathedral in all its glory.”

Visit our new events pages to discover what brilliant things your cathedrals are doing.

Space Voyage will open in Rochester Cathedral for three nights only October 5- 7. Tickets need to be pre-booked through the Rochester Cathedral website and timed entry will be in operation.

Carlisle Cathedral is getting ready to take part in the return of Carlisle’s City of Lights event this October – following the success of the first City of Lights which took place in early 2020 before lockdown.

The event will feature lighting of the city’s key historic landmarks and a Son-et-Lumiere experience at Carlisle Cathedral and Carlisle Castle.

Tickets are now on sale from the Carlisle Tourist Information Centre. The event will be held over three evenings 14-16 October.

And in Liverpool 154,000 people came to the Cathedral to see the artwork, Peace Doves created by artist Peter Walker. Featuring over 18,000 paper doves, the installation was suspended from the roof of the Cathedral using 18.8 miles of ribbon and accompanied by a soundscape from composer David Harper.

Liverpool is one of a number of our cathedrals that has just been awarded Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice 2021. This award is based on consistently receiving great visitor reviews on Tripadvisor for a full year and it places its recipients in the top 10% of attractions around the globe on Tripadvisor.

Paul Smith, Director of Enterprise at Liverpool Cathedral, said:

“We were so pleased to be able to offer our visitors this wonderful installation – especially after the very difficult year which everyone has been through.

“And receiving this accolade for a second year running is an incredible honour and a testament to our amazing Cathedral Team. 

“Their dedication to providing the best possible encounter for everyone who walks through our doors means that our visitors want to tell others about their experience.”

Norwich, Ely, Ripon and Gloucester cathedrals have all been awarded Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice 2021 so far this year.

Thousands of you have been taking the opportunity to #DiscoverCathedrals for a host of art exhibitions, tours, family activities or simply just to be.

And after a year like no other … We Thank You!

Our latest economic and social impact report showed that in 2019 we hosted two events EVERY three days – that’s a massive 9,580 events – and we welcomed 14.6million visitors – including 308,000 schoolchildren. The pandemic had a huge impact on our visitor numbers and our ability to host events – in 2020 visits were down by 75 per cent and we hosted just 885 events.

But we’re building back!

Watch this space or go to our events page or each cathedrals individual website to find out what you might discover in our cathedrals.

Moon photos at Bristol – Credit Bristol Cathedral

Sheffield Cathedrals at Night photo below.

Sheffield Cathedral - Rising Visitor Numbers at Cathedrals Across England