This year will be my 17th Christmas with my boyfriend James who is a born and bred Geordie. During the festive season we try and divide our time between Rochdale (where I’m originally from) and Newcastle so we can see all our family and friends.
I love going back to my home town but I have to admit that Christmases in the North East have a special kind of magic about them. The Geordies have lots of festive traditions that I now fully embrace! If I wasn’t already lucky enough to live here, I would definitely find myself travelling to Newcastle for a winter break.
These are the things that I think it wouldn’t be a Geordie Christmas without…
Crowds gathered on Northumberland Street on Friday 7th November to witness the grand unveiling of the magnificent Fenwick Christmas window, just as they have done almost every year for generations. Of course, the Covid pandemic put a spanner in the works in 2020 but Fenwick launched a live stream of the event which has started a new tradition. Now people across the globe can enjoy the store’s festive display from the comfort of their own homes.
For many years now, Tyneside Cinema has added the Christmas classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ to their December listings. James and I have made a habit of watching it in the opulent surroundings of the art deco classic screen and it never fails to make me feel all warm and Christmassy! This year there’s also a couple of screenings that feature live music on stage performed by a North East Gospel Choir, cue goosebumps! Details here: www.tynesidecinema.co.uk
This might seem like an odd one to include but let me tell you… when I used to work in a city centre office, the release day of the Greggs Festive Bake was cause for much excitement amongst my colleagues!
They are now so popular that national newspapers report on them, there are even facebook fan pages dedicated to the pastry delight. As Greggs was born in Newcastle I think the Geordies have always been the company’s biggest fans.
It’s basically a Christmas dinner in a pasty so I can see the appeal, but I still fondly remember the Brie and Cranberry version from a few years ago, what ever happened to those?
Ice skating is such a fun festive activity and it’s not just for kids! The outdoor rink at Newcastle’s Centre For Life is a wonderful addition to the city from November until January. I highly recommend it as a great way to blow off the cobwebs and rediscover your inner child.
Book your tickets here… www.life.org.uk/events/skating
There are hundreds of fabulous local artisan producers in the North East. From the Northumberland Cheese Company to Wylam Brewery and from Chainbridge Honey Farm to Davenports Chocolates and Durham Gin.
The Fenwick Food Hall stocks many of these luxury products plus loads more and I think they make wonderful gifts. I recently picked up a special Alnwick Rum Christmas pudding from Fenwick which I can’t wait to send to someone special.
There are several brilliant pantos to choose from in Newcastle, often starring home grown talent and Geordie humour. Whether it’s jokes about the footy, Tyne and Wear rivalry or strange local customs like first-footing after midnight on NYE, a panto in Newcastle will always feature lots of local references.
This year I’m looking forward to seeing Sleeping Beauty at Tyne theatre and Opera House. It features the return of hilarious North East comic Charlie Richmond as the silly ‘Jester’ and the lovely Lewis Denny is back as ‘Dame’. Book tickets here: www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk/events/enchanted-entertainment-present-sleeping-beauty/
It’s world renowned that people from Newcastle LOVE to party, so obviously in my quest to become an honorary Geordie I have often attempted to give the locals a run for their money in the city’s bars. You can read about some of my nights out in Newcastle HERE and HERE. Wearing a coat is optional 😉
So, as you can see, Newcastle is a fantastic place to spend the festive season (or any season for that matter)! Other events that James and I have enjoyed at this time of year include concerts at The Sage Gateshead and Newcastle City Hall, festive afternoon tea at Jesmond Dene House, and sipping Mulled Wine at Hadrian’s Tipi. Many locals embrace the tradition of a boxing day dip in the North Sea too, but I’ve never been brave enough for that.
I’d love to know what your festive traditions are? You can tell me in the comments below.