Hello and happy new year! I hope you had a fun filled Christmas and a restful break. You may have noticed my blog has had a little makeover and I’m back with a bumper post filled with ideas to keep you busy throughout the next 12 months.
I published a list similar to this last January but am ashamed to say that I didn’t get round to ticking off most of my own suggestions. A hectic year filled with lots of personal and professional challenges left little time for a social life in 2019. However, this year I am determined to experience more adventures in Geordieland and share them with you. Here are 20 things I hope to do in 2020…
After being closed for many years the Grade II listed Newcastle City Baths will reopen in early 2019 thanks to a £7.5 million restoration project. As well as a large pool there will be Turkish baths, a spa and state of the art fitness facilities, all in the heart of Newcastle city centre. Check out the artist’s impressions in this video and find out more at www.city-baths.co.uk
There have been loads of new restaurants popping up across Newcastle in the last year or so and a great way to sample them without breaking the bank is with NE1 Restaurant Week.
From 20 – 26 Jan (and usually again in August), dozens of city centre restaurants present a bespoke Restaurant Week menu for the special price of either £10pp or £15pp. It’s the perfect excuse to discover somewhere new or revisit an old favourite – but it’s best to book in advance as tables get booked up quickly. Get the details at www.getintonewcastle.co.uk/ne1-events/restaurant-week.
On Sunday 26 January Newcastle welcomes the ‘year of the rat’ with a day of celebrations for Chinese New Year. In and around the city’s China Town you can join in free activities including traditional crafts, there’ll also be a Chinese Market and fairground on Bath Lane. The highlight of the afternoon is always the mesmerising lion dance parade which I like watch before heading to one of the many tempting restaurants nearby; La Yuan is one of my favourites!
It’s not for the fainthearted but if we are lucky enough to get a heatwave like the one we had in August 2019 I’ll be heading straight for the North East coast with a surfboard under my arm! The last time I tried surfing was many moons ago in Tynemouth and it wasn’t very successful. If you fancy a laugh you can read more about that experience HERE.
We are fortunate to have a plethora of stunning theatres in North East England, from small intimate venues to grand buildings capable of hosting West End productions. I’ve been eyeing up the listings for 2020 and am excited to see that The Phantom of the Opera is coming to the Sunderland Empire in November and the Tyne Theatre welcomes The Russian State Ballet in October.
As usual, Newcastle Theatre Royal is preparing for a busy year with shows including Sister Act, We Will Rock You, The Book of Mormon and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Over at Northern Stage you can expect an eclectic mix of homegrown and touring productions.
There’s loads to choose from across the region!
Rugby League returns to St James’ Park on 23 & 24 May 2020 for a fun filled weekend of exhilarating action. Magic Weekend always brings a party atmosphere to the Toon and the events are great for families too. Early bird ticket prices are available till the end of Jan. More info at www.superleague.co.uk/tickets/magic-weekend
I can’t believe another year has passed by and I still haven’t ventured in to the mysterious Victoria Tunnel! The 19th century waggonway runs under the city of Newcastle from the Town Moor all the way to the River Tyne and was designed to transport coal. Guided tours and special events happen on regular dates throughout the year and it’s something I’ve always wanted to experience.
I have finally booked a ticket for a two hour tour (priced at £9) for early Feb, so I’ll write a post to tell you all about it! Book yours at www.ouseburntrust.org.uk/visit-vt
From the 17 – 19 July, Newcastle’s Town Moor will host UK Pride and if previous Northern Pride events are anything to go by it is going to be one heck of a celebration! Event details including the main stage line up are still being finalised but organisers are promising their most diverse festival to date and I for one can’t wait! More details including ticket info and volunteer opportunities at www.northern-pride.com/pridefestival
Anna Hedworth’s renowned restaurant in the heart of Ouseburn has attracted rave reviews from numerous celebrity chefs, national newspapers and The Good Food Guide, yet it still remains somewhat of a hidden gem in Newcastle. Having previously dined at Anna’s first restaurant in a shipping container overlooking the Ouseburn river I am keen to experience her rustic heartfelt cooking in the surroundings of her new(ish) home before it becomes impossible to get a table there. More info at www.cookhouse.org
Kynren returns to Bishop Auckland from 1 August – 12 September 2020 with a spectacular new show, new attractions and new dining experiences. I went to see Kynren back in 2018 and was blown away by the awe-inspiring outdoor spectacle. However, I did think that perhaps the evening would have been even better had there been stalls and attractions to enjoy in the grounds before the performance started.
I’m delighted to hear the attraction has now been improved by the addition of The Park where visitors can watch an exhilarating horse stunt show with chariot races and jousting. There’s also an exciting maze, enchanting mini explorers’ adventure playground and live music on the lake. In addition there are a number of dining options available. Sounds great doesn’t it? If you’ve never been, it really is a unique and unforgettable experience! More info at www.kynren.com and you can read my previous review HERE (ad – press tickets).
I’ve never been quite brave enough (or more importantly, fit enough) to actually sign up for the Great North Run but I’m a firm believer that ‘participating’ also includes volunteering, cheering, and sponsoring. All these activities help to put the ‘great’ in Great North Run and maintain its reputation as the biggest and best half marathon in the world! In previous years I’ve sang with a choir at the half way mark, made cups of tea in the charity village in South Shields and last year I took Jack and Emily along to soak up the atmosphere at the start line. Any suggestions for what I should do in 2020 that don’t involve actually running?
I’m definitely more at home spectating when it comes to sport and I’m excited to hear that once again Gateshead Stadium is set to welcome freshly-crowned Olympic medallists in 2020. World class athletes including Katarina Johnson-Thompson will go head to head across a quick-fire session of games at the Muller Grand Prix on 16 August. All the details at www.britishathletics.org.uk/events-and-tickets/muller-grand-prix-gateshead-2020/
Staying with the sport theme for a moment, this is one activity I am willing to try! I’ve heard so many positive reviews from people who have been out on to the River Tyne to kayak with CBK Adventure Co and I am desperate to have a go. I didn’t get round to it last year so I’m determined to tick this amazing experience off my list in 2020!
My eight year old neice and nephew are well in to Harry Potter at the moment so I have promised them a day out at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland where they can wander the grounds of the real ‘Hogwarts’!
Between March and October there are often Harry Potter inspired activities that you can enjoy during to your visit to the castle and ‘broomstick training’ sounds like great fun! Alnwick Castle is about a 45 min drive from Newcastle and there’s loads of other things to experience in the area too, including the stunning Alnwick Gardens, breathtaking Alnwick Treehouse and the quirky Barter Book Store.
It’s been ages since I got all dressed up and enjoyed a day at the races, which is silly really as High Godforth Park is one of the countries busiest racecourses and only a couple of miles away from where I live! There are over 60 races throughout the year including the prestigious Northumberland Plate and a glamorous Ladie’s Day. The Newcastle racecourse also hosts lots of family friendly events too so I think it could be another place we enjoy a big day out this summer.
There seemed to be more music festivals than ever before in the North East in 2019 and many of them are coming back bigger and better this year. I’m excited to hear that This is Tomorrow is returning to Exhibition Park in Newcastle on 23 & 24 May, it was class last year! Headline acts include the awesome Gerry Cinnamon and local lad done good, Sam Fender.
Other North East festivals well worth checking out include Lindisfarne Festival (3 – 6 Sept), Corbridge Festival (3 & 4 July), Mighty Dub Fest (19 – 21 June), Kubix Festival (10 & 11 July) and Gateshead Beer and Music Festival (7 – 9 May). Let me know if you recommend any others.
2020 marks the 125th anniversary of the much loved National Trust and there are certainly plenty of venues to enjoy across the North East. Cragside, Gibside and Seaton Delaval Hall are some of my favourites but this year I’m planning to visit some of National Trust properties I’ve not been to before, like Wallington, Mount Grace Priory and Washington Old Hall. There always seems to be something going on with National Trust, from nature walks to stargazing, cycle challenges to crafting workshops.
Since leaving my job in the city centre the amount of time I spend in Newcastle’s bars has dramatically reduced. My old workmates never needed much persuasion to go for an afternoon drink or a Friday night bar crawl and I’ve really missed that!
This year I’m planning a reunion with my former colleagues and I can’t wait to plan a route around town taking in fabulous new bars like Horticulture, Leila Lily’s, The Purple Peacock, Market Shaker and Hibou Blanc. No doubt we’ll stumble in to old favourites too like Alvinos, The Bridge Tavern, Colonel Porters and Pleased to Meet You.
Since opening 20 years ago, Life Science Centre has been captivating people of all ages with their fascinating exhibitions and hands on activities. I’ve always enjoyed visits with the family and am looking forward to checking out what it’s got to offer during it’s 20th anniversary year. A brand new ‘Space Zone’ is now open which looks fantastic for over 5’s and the Planetarium shows are always a highlight.
On Boxing Day 2019 I sat on the sofa in my PJ’s eating leftover mince pies, staring at the telly in awe as I watched hundreds of people run in to the icy waters of the North Sea for a boxing day dip! “They must be bloody mad” said my Dad… “I might do that next year” I thought… watch this space!
So there you have it, quite a round up, I’m sure you’ll agree! I hope it’s inspired you to have some adventures in Geordieland this year. No doubt I’ll be sharing lots of days out with my reluctant blogging partner Pat the dog too, so keep checking back to see what we get up to throughout the year.
As always we welcome further suggestions and feedback in the comments section below, so don’t be shy! See you soon xx