Here in Geordieland we’re currently in the middle of a month long celebration of our region’s culture with a calendar of events that is so jam packed it’s hard to know where to begin! The poster for Festival of the North East sums it up nicely by saying ‘There’s a lot going on up here’ and it’s certainly not wrong, so I thought I’d put together a little post highlighting just some of the diverse events happening across NewcastleGateshead that have taken my fancy.
It’s Playtime: Ouseburn Valley – 23rd June 11am-5pm
FREE event no booking required
Rumour has it that levels of playfulness have fallen critically low across the North East, I find this very hard to believe don’t you? So jump aboard the festival bus and prove to The International Ministry of Play that the Geordies know how to have fun! There’ll be play challenges issued via IMP’s official Twitter feed @ItsPlaytime_NE
Beneath the Boards: Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre – 17th June – 26th June
£8 – Advance Booking – 0844 493 9999
I’ve walked past the Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre hundreds of times and have to confess to taking for granted this historical building that’s been at the heart of North East Culture for over a century. Well never again thanks to this unique opportunity to take a sneak peek behind the scenes of the magnificent 19th century auditorium and see the original Victorian under-stage machinery (unique in Britain). There’s also the chance to meet some of the characters that have brought this venue to life over the decades.
Frozen By Sight & Barographic: Sage Gateshead – 26th June
£10 – Advance Booking – 0191 443 4661
I have not one, but two big reasons to be excited about this event, namely Paul Smith and Peter Brewis. The two north-eastern Mercury Prize nominees have come together in a departure from their respective work with Maxïmo Park and Field Music to create what promises to be an unforgettable musical collaboration in Frozen by Sight.
There’ll also be informal DJ sets in the concourse of the venue after the performances. Paul Smith has DJ’d quite a few events round these parts and from what I’ve heard has a really eclectic taste in music, he’s also the festivals artistic director so expect this evening to be one of the highlights of the month!
Dear Angel: Globe Gallery, Necastle – 1st June – 29th June:
Every time I drive past the Angel of the North after a brief spell away from the North East, I can’t help but say hello to her on my return. Ignoring her would be like not saying ‘Morning Mr Magpie’ to a lone magpie in the garden! Just Me? Oh well, anyway, I was delighted to hear that as part of Festival of the North East, local people were being invited to write a letter to the cultural icon that has presided over our evolving region for the past 15 years.
Dear Angel is an emotionally charged, interactive artwork that captures how people feel and think about the North East of England. Over the past month, hundreds of participants collaborated with artist Stevie Ronnie, to handwrite, type, record, make or illustrate a letter and throughout June you can add your own letter at the Globe Gallery in Newcastle city centre.
Well these are some of the events that I’ll be heading for first but there are literally dozens more taking place right across the region, not just NewcastleGateshead but also Sunderland, Durham and Northumberland. Get your full guide HERE. The whole festival is inspired by the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the region but more about that in a future post, for now, just get out there and get involved!
By Rachel Kershaw