Hello and Happy New Year! In previous Januarys I’ve posted a list of things to do in and around Newcastle throughout the year and as well as providing me with a personal check list (most of which I manage to tick off), it also proves rather popular with you, my lovely readers!
So… without further ado, here are 16 things I’m looking forward to over the next 12 months, hope you get to enjoy some of them.
Stuff the diet this January, NE1’s Newcastle Restaurant Week is back with over 80 eateries offering specially priced menus. For just £10 or £15 pp you can dine at loads of the North East’s best restaurants. Some of my favourites are on the list including The Botanist, Longhorns, Gusto, Hotel du Vin, Bridge Tavern and Osaka to name but a few!
Tables get booked up quickly so plan your week of foodie adventures before it’s too late!
Kung Hey Fat Choi! Newcastle’s Stowell Street will host a vibrant and colourful party to welcome in the year of the monkey on the 14th of February. There’ll be traditional Chinese crafts, dance, martial arts, food and drink, games and a spectacular dragon dance near the Ceremonial Arch at Gallowgate.
The celebrations have to be rounded off with a tasty Chinese meal and there are plenty of options in China Town – it’s bound to busy as it’s also Valentine’s Day.
I always get a bit giddy about the Gateshead International Jazz Festival as it’s a chance to see some of the world’s most exciting musicians in one of my favourite North East venues, The Sage Gateshead. Last year I got tickets for the double bill headliners Ruby Turner and The James Taylor Quarter. I wondered how the organisers were going to top that for 2016 but they’ve only gone and booked Gregory Porter, one of the coolest crooners on the planet!
Unleash your inner nerd at this two day family friendly festival of invention and creativity! Maker Faire is held at Life Science Centre (the perfect venue!) and brings together over 300 hackers, crafters, coders, DIYers and garden shed inventors from across the globe – people who love to make stuff and who want to share their passion. It’s truly inspiring!
Step back in to history and discover what life was like for the Geordies of the past by exploring the region’s idyllic English Heritage sites. From castles in the country to grand gardens and my personal favourite… a stunning Priory overlooking the sea, there are some tranquil and fascinating days out just waiting to be discovered so check out the English Heritage site for more details.
A visit to Life Science Centre is always an eye opening experience and following on from the hugely popular Body Worlds Vital exhibition in 2015, Gunther von Hagen’s Animal Inside Out is sure to be popular. See a variety of animals painstakingly preserved by the remarkable process of plastination, from goats to giraffes, elephants to eels and octopuses to ostriches.
Magic Weekend was held in Newcastle for the first time last year and it was a record breaker, with more than 67,000 fans in attendance! I’d like to think it had something to do with my presenting skills on the Magic Weekend promotional videos but it was more likely to be the lure of a weekend in the Toon with 12 First Utility Super League teams playing at St James’ Park, plus sunshine, music, and a fantastic fanzone! It was a wonderful weekend so I was excited to learn it’s all happening again in 2016.
I have heard rave reviews of the annual comedy festival, Jesterval but have never been so I am eagerly anticipating its return in June 2016 and am just waiting for the dates to be confirmed. Previous acts have included Chris Ramsey, Ed Byrne and Patrick Monahan and the venue is a huge circus tent that takes up a prime position on Baltic Square Gateshead, you can’t miss it!
¡VAMOS! Festival celebrates Spanish and Portuguese speaking cultures with a variety of events across Geordieland. The guys behind ¡VAMOS! really know how to party, expect Mardi Gras performances, exclusive film premieres, family picnics, large scale pop-up restaurants, a major literary conference and cutting edge visual arts from international artists, what’s not to love?
As if there wasn’t enough going on in June, there’s also an excuse to get dolled up and have a flutter at Newcastle Racecourse thanks to the hugely popular Northumberland Plate Festival. This three day race event is the biggest of its kind in the North East and there’s a lively atmosphere, easily rivalling Ascot and Aintree!
The New York Times called it one of the most vibrant areas in NewcastleGateshead and no wonder, because Ouseburn is bursting with exciting cultural venues, including The Cluny, Northern Print, Seven Stories (the UK’s National Centre for Children’s Books) Ouseburn Farm and Stepney Bank Stables. The Ouseburn Festival celebrates the immense creativity of this area, bringing together the best of its food, drink and fun in a two day extravaganza that the whole family will love!
— Rachel Kershaw (@rachmotormouth) July 18, 2015
LGBT life on Tyneside is celebrated with a huge party in Leazes Park every year. It’s one of the most diverse and fun FREE events of the year and starts with a Pride march through the city. Keep an eye out for more info, including details of this year’s headline artists, last year Bewitched got us all in the party spirit! (UPDATE: Heather Small and boyband 5ive have now been confirmed as headliners!)
Whether a runner, a cheerer or a volunteer, everyone who takes part in the Great North Run is involved in something special. Last year I stood by the start line and clapped non-stop for about an hour, my eyes watery with emotion as I saw the determination on the runner’s faces. There really is nothing like it, which is why it’s known as the greatest half marathon in the world!
Theatre-goers are spoilt for choice in Newcastle! There’s the Grade I listed Theatre Royal (regional home of the Royal Shakespeare Company), the intimate Live Theatre, the impressive Northern Stage and the world’s oldest working Victorian theatre, The Tyne Theatre all within the city centre! A few miles down the road there’s also, Sunderland Empire which showcases West End shows direct from London and the PLAYHOUSE Whitley Bay which is great for family shows.
This year I’m looking forward to seeing a stage adaptation of Get Carter at Northern Stage among others so watch this space for reviews!
Technically this event in Northumberland, in the awe inspiring Kielder forest, but people come from miles around to enjoy a magical experience with Father Christmas and his quirky woodland friends. It’s not your average visit to see Santa, it’s a full day out filled with festive surprises and I definitely want to take my niece and nephew this year!
For the last six years in a row I have spent New Year’s Eve in Newcastle and it has never disappointed! As part of the NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival there’s an afternoon parade through the city centre with jaw dropping art installations, costumes and carnival music followed by an impressive firework finale at Newcastle Civic Centre at round 5pm. For the late night revellers there’s also a midnight firework display on the Quayside. Everyone knows that the nightlife in Newcastle in legendary so where could be better to see out the year?
So there you have it, as I always say, there’s never a dull moment in Geordieland!
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